(The following is adapted from Getting Older Better: The Best Advice Ever on Money, Health, Creativity, Sex, Work, Retirement and More.)
“The media reflects our collective anxiety about growing older. I like to call this the ‘misery myth.'” — Laura L. Carstensen, Ph.D.
The attitude that surrounds us is that old age in its most problematic sense starts somewhere between 50 or 60. Why is this? Perhaps we still buy into some outdated myths that women’s lives after 50 are the beginning of our decline.
Living passionately and well, however, doesn’t stop at a certain point in one’s life followed by the destructive forces of aging.
To age successfully, we need to be aware of the newer and older myths about aging that our current culture holds true. Here are 10 examples of the myths I’ve heard and what I know to be true:
Myth: Old women are depressed and lonely.
Truth: Depending on circumstances, we may get sad and lonely from time to time, but the research shows that the least lonely and depressed women are over 75.
Myth: Older women are less successful in new pursuits.
Truth: Some of the best and brightest women, though past the half-century mark in years, are still climbing the ladder of success in the world.
Myth: Old women have more stress in their lives.
Truth: According to psychologists, older women have more stress-free days than younger ones.
Myth: Growing older is synonymous with the loss of meaning and purpose.
Truth: Research and the elderly themselves are demonstrating that one’s later years can be the richest ever in wisdom and spirituality.
Myth: If you are older and reminiscing about the past or are becoming garrulous about the past, you are exhibiting signs of senility.
Truth: These recollections are natural and appropriate, and their purpose is to resolve conflicts of life and to do a life review.
Myth: The older you get, the faster time passes.
Truth: Mathematically, those proverbial endless summers of your childhood were not even one minute longer than last summer. You have more routines now and routines lend uniformity, which makes it very easy to be oblivious to time.
Myth: Everyone wants to, and should be willing to, hear our wisdom and opinions just because we are older.
Truth: Even though we’re older and wiser, we don’t necessarily know everything and are OK with that.
Myth: Older women are weak and have to be protected.
Truth: Once the protector myth is conquered, women become whole and authentic. We know that if we accept a limiting role, we violate ourselves.
Myth: Creativity is only for the gifted few and our talents dim with age.
Truth: Creativity is not just for geniuses and the gifted. It is the energy that allows us to express ourselves in unique ways; it enables us to view life as an opportunity for exploration and it knows no age.
Myth: All old women are physically passionless and have no interest in being sexual.
Truth: Many older women continue to be passionate about life and maintain an interest in sex.
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