Home » Lifestyle » Common misconceptions about older people

Common misconceptions about older people


Lara Crisp

Editor, Gransnet

Going grey doesn’t mean your needs or ambitions or sense of humour drain away. Here are just a few ways to break the mould or show how wrong everyday misconceptions of older people are.

What is ‘old’ these days? Seventy? Eighty? Ninety? According to the users on Gransnet, old is simply ten years older than you are at the present moment.

None of us want to feel categorised as ‘past it’ or subscribe to the stereotypes the media enforces on us. Going grey doesn’t mean your needs or ambitions or sense of humour drain away. Here are just a few ways that gransnetters break the mould or show us how wrong everyday misconceptions of older people are.

Myth: Older people are a drain on society

Baby-boomer-bashing is particularly rife at the moment, with an unfortunate focus on encouraging the generational divide. But far from not contributing to society, older people are often the ones supporting their extended families. Many are part of the sandwich generation, looking after elderly parents as well as being relied upon for regular childcare. Nine out of ten gransnetters provide regular childcare for their grandchildren, and in the UK it’s estimated that grandparents save the economy £17.6 billion of childcare per year.

It’s time we recognised the massive social, economical and emotional contribution older people make to society.   

Myth: Older people don’t understand modern technology

One of the biggest misconceptions around older people is that they can’t – or won’t – go online. By virtue of the fact that we are an online forum where the average user is 61, that particular argument clearly doesn’t hold any weight. Yes, some people may choose not to go online, but they are perfectly capable of learning how to do so if they don’t already.

Tablets in particular have transformed the way we access content online – they are more intuitive and make the whole experience increasingly user-friendly. Aside from the Gransnet forums, our users are active on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram.

Myth: You lose your dress sense when you get older

Who says when you get to a certain age you have to wear cardies or ugly footwear? Our users prove that while they aren’t slaves to fast fashion, over time they’ve learnt what suits them.

Comfort may be key – one needs to be able to scramble after the grandkids after all – but there’s no reason this couldn’t include skinny jeans and leopard print ballet flats.

Myth: Retirement is a bed of roses

Not all pensioners are sitting on private goldmines. Yes, many have benefitted from rising house prices, but many have been stung by pension changes or changes in personal circumstances too.

Retirement can also be  a lonely business. Not having a daily purpose can be debilitating to some. In addition, losing the contact and camaraderie of other colleagues can be a huge adjustment. Relationships too suffer as many find spending so much time together forces them to face the cracks in their marriages.

Getting older – a wonderful, challenging time, but entirely misunderstood by those who aren’t there yet.  As a society we need to challenge these misconceptions so we can better support the needs of an ageing population.

Next article