Debunking Stereotypes about Older Adults

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Generalizations about seniors can misinform others and affect how seniors are treated. Many stereotypes endanger senior safety and erode self-esteem. Since generalizations about aging adults can impact the quality of care provided to them, it’s important to refute these misconceptions.

Nutrition Fiction

Many people believe seniors need little food because they have slow metabolisms. Your loved one may have a poor appetite, but he or she still needs substantial, healthy meals. 

Aging impairs the ability to absorb nutrients. Physicians have observed that seniors are often deficient in vitamin B12, folate, calcium, vitamin D, potassium, magnesium, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids. 

Older adults also tend to be dehydrated. Weight loss is one of the many signs of malnutrition. Your loved one may exhibit disorientation, confusion, lethargy, and forgetfulness. You might think these are signs of dementia, but they typically indicate nutritional shortfalls. 

A professional caregiver can help your loved one prepare nutritious meals. There are many reasons seniors might need assistance at home. Some may require regular mental stimulation due to an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, while others might only need part-time assistance with exercise and basic household tasks. Home Care Assistance is a leading elderly home care provider. Families rely on our expertly trained caregivers to help their senior loved ones maintain a high quality of life.

Cognitive Fallacies 

One of the most popular myths about seniors is that they become senile with age. However, according to a study by the Alzheimer Society of Canada, the percentage of seniors with dementia is 0.8 percent in private households and 45 percent in long-term care facilities. 

Seniors tend to misplace hearing aids, eyeglasses, wallets, keys, and medications, but these mental lapses are often the result of distraction, not memory loss. “Senior moments” may be triggered by sudden excitement or stress. Mental exercises such as reading, playing brain games, doing creative work, and solving puzzles increase alertness and cognitive function. 

Learning Absurdities 

In addition to believing dementia is inevitable, people often think seniors can’t learn new things. However, colleges and universities offer courses geared toward older adults. Continuing education programs are often provided free or at reduced fees. 

For a senior with dementia, you’ll need to challenge his or her mind by degrees. Begin with mild mental workouts and gradually increase the difficulty. As technology gets more user-friendly, elderly people are becoming more computer savvy, and brain training websites are ideal. For example, Lumosity.com designs computer games that strengthen attention, memory, flexibility, processing speed, and problem-solving skills. With a subscription, your loved one can play the games on a regular basis.

Fitness Myths 

A common notion is that it’s impossible for seniors to remain physically fit, and your loved one might have this misconception as well. However, a physician will likely praise the merits of physical activity. Regular exercise can slow bone loss, increase balance, strengthen muscles, enhance flexibility, relieve pain and stress, elevate mood, and sharpen memory. 

Moderate physical activity can turn back the aging clock. The key to this process is the telomere. This structure is a protective cap at the end of a chromosome, physically similar to the plastic tip on a shoelace. Telomeres preserve the DNA on genes so when chromosomes replicate, their codes aren’t lost. Telomeres also prevent the ends of chromosomes from degenerating. Scientists have recently discovered that telomeres shorten with age, increasing the risk of disease. However, an enzyme called telomerase adds DNA to chromosomes to reverse the shortening. Moderate exercise fuels telomerase production. Within a few months of starting a workout program, telomeres can lengthen. 

The key to beginning an exercise program is taking small steps. Let’s theorize that your loved one’s current capability is walking from the bedroom to the bathroom a few times daily. First, you can encourage your loved one to get out of a chair 10 times each day. Then encourage walking around the home five times. Increase to ambling down the block and back, adding distance when your loved one is able. 

In the event your loved one has limited mobility, look for a professional physical therapist, who can tailor an exercise program for your loved one. You can also buy exercise DVDs created for seniors. 

If you’re the primary caregiver for a senior family member and you need respite care, Lincoln, CA, Home Care Assistance is here to help. Our respite caregivers are trained to assist older adults with a wide variety of everyday tasks, including meal prep, physical activity, and personal hygiene. We also provide 24-hour care and specialized care for seniors with Alzheimer’s, dementia, and Parkinson’s.

Employment Biases

Stereotypes about job performance hinder many seniors from working. Such prejudices affect their income, health, fulfillment, quality of life, and retirement. Employers often view older workers as a financial risk. They see seniors as being less motivated, resistant to change, unwilling to train, and more prone to illness and taking sick days. 

In reality, older workers tend to be punctual, honest, and highly dedicated. Over time, they’ve honed skills in listening, communication, and organization. Seniors often have integrity, so their word is golden. Pride in working motivates them to excel. Generally, older employees handle stress better than their younger counterparts, and age-old wisdom makes them diplomatic and tactful. 

Aging in place can present a few unique challenges for older adults. Not every senior has the same care needs, which means they don’t all need the same type of home care service. Lincoln families can rely on Home Care Assistance to provide individualized care plans to meet their elderly loved ones’ unique care needs. Our holistic Balanced Care Method was designed to help seniors focus on healthy lifestyle habits such as eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and maintaining strong social ties, and our Cognitive Therapeutics Method offers mentally stimulating activities that can boost cognitive health and delay the onset of dementia. To learn more about our premier in-home care plans, call us at (916) 226-3737 today.

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