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Ageing myths

As you get older, you may come across negative attitudes about ageing. You might even feel pressure to accept and adopt these stereotypes about seniors.

A lack of knowledge about ageing sustains these myths and can lead to age discrimination.

The publication Ageing: myth and reality presents information from research, surveys and consultations about ageing.

The reality is the vast majority of seniors lead healthy and active lives, and make significant contributions to their family and the community.

Common myths

Myth: Older people are an economic burden on society.

Reality: Older people make a significant contribution to the economy:

  • They spend $895 million on domestic travel annually.
  • They donate generously to charity. In the 1999-2000 tax year, over 65s accounted for 22% of total donations while earning only 7% of the population’s income.
  • Their unpaid work as carers and volunteers is valued at almost $39 billion per year.

Myth: All old people are unwell.

Reality: The majority of older people are healthy and active, particularly those under 80 years old. In 2003 only 5% of people aged 60 and older were in hospitals or aged care homes.

Myth: Older people are unable to learn or change.

Reality: There are increasing numbers of older people pursuing university studies while others attend informal classes through the University of the Third Age. Many seniors learn new things to allow them to take part in activities and leisure interests.

Myth: Memory loss and senility comes with age.

Reality: Studies show you can maintain intellect and creativity into old age. While your risk of dementia does increase, it affects only about 5% of older people.

Myth: Older people are more likely to be victims of criminal assault and robbery.

Reality: People aged 65 and over are less likely to be victims of crime than other adults.

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia (CC BY 3.0)
Last updated:
27 March 2014

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