By Lou Redd
Approximately one out of every five Americans is 65 years of age or older, the numbers are growing.
As the years and quality of life are lengthened, old age is being redefined. For example, some sociologists are extending middle age up to 65. People from 66 to 75 are referred to as the young old. Those from 76 to 85 are considered old and if you are 86 and above you may be called the frail elderly.
We spend one-forth of our lives growing up, and three-fourths of our lives growing old.
Although our society spends time and money helping older people understand teenagers, very little time and money is spent helping younger people understand those who are older. In fact, there is a tendency on the part of younger people to isolate older people away from their activities. Perhaps this is a way that some of the younger generations deals with their fear of death.
We need to confront the ignorance and myths of society’s understanding of aging and older people by providing accurate information. In fact, interview some old people and you may get a surprise. Let us briefly look at some of these myths.
- Myth: A majority of those over 65 are senile.
- Fact: Only two to three percent of those over 65 are in some form of an institution.
- Myth: A large percentage of the aged are living in facilities for long-term care.
- Fact: Less than five percent of those over 65 and less that 10 percent over 75 live in long-term care facilities.
- Myth: Aged drivers have more accidents than younger drivers.
- Fact: Drivers over 65 have 24 percent fewer accidents than younger drivers under 65.
- Myth: It is almost impossible for older people to learn new things.
- Fact: Over 70 percent of older people go back to school, take courses, or obtain a degree each year.
- Myth: In general, most older people are alike.
- Fact: Older adults maintain their uniqueness as individuals at any age.
There are many instances that we could cite where older adults are not much different than younger people. There are care ministries that older individuals are called to begin or be part of. Vacations with a purpose (my name for mission trips) are a part of some seniors’ lives.
Ministry is not restricted to someone above the age of 21 or below the age of 55.
The Holy Spirit calls all people to spread the Word.
To you older adults, do not accept society’s misconceptions about your capabilities and worth. Begin or join a ministry in your church.
You, as a person that reads this blog regardless of your age can, through your bulletin or church newsletter, make your congregation aware of these myths.
If the older adult (50 plus) group or any individual are a part of a special ministry, I would like to know about that blessing that you are part of. Please email me at [email protected] or by standard mail at Lou Redd, 8720 Ridge Rd. Apt 110, Ellicott, City, MD 21043. I would like to feature you in a future blog.
Read more of Redd’s blog, “Redd Alert-The Encore Generation: Significant living in the 2nd half of your life…” here.