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Senior Health

For Caregivers - Knowing What Is and Isn't a Part of Normal Aging

Anyone who works with older adults needs to be "in the know" about realities of aging. We need be able to differentiate between the truths about aging and the many myths and stereotypes that exist so that we base our interactions with them on a solid knowledge foundation.

Test your knowledge about older people and the aging process. Complete the following true or false statements. The answers can be found below.

Wheelchair Assistance

  1. As people grow older, their intelligence declines significantly. T F
  2. Personality changes with age. T F
  3. Memory loss is a normal part of aging. T F
  4. Clinical depression occurs more frequently in older than younger people. T F
  5. Most old people lose interest in and capacity for sexual relations. T F
  6. Constipation increases in more people as they grow older. T F
  7. Retirement is often detrimental to health-ie., people frequently become ill or die soon after retirement. T F
  8. The modern family no longer takes care of its older people. T F
  9. Abuse of older people is not a significant problem in the U.S. T F
  10. Older adults have the highest suicide rate of any age group.1 T F

Answers to the Aging Quiz: All of the answers are False, except for numbers 3 and 10.

Possible consequences if or when older people and professionals confuse pathologic conditions with normal aging:

It is important that anyone that works with older people have an adequate geriatric education. We have a responsibility to:

Research Study on Age Excuses

Many people make "age excuses" which is basically attributing problems such as forgetfulness to old age rather than illness and potentially treatable conditions. A 2002 study by Ryan and colleagues explored "age excuses" and found they often undermine the self-perception of older people and threaten self-esteem if the older person believed the excuse.3


Recommended Resources

Some aging resources:

1. Excerpts from quiz developed by the Center on Aging Studies at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
2. Miller, C. (2004). Aging for Wellness in Older Adults:Theory and practice. 4th Ed. New York: Lippincott, Williams & Williams
3. Ryan, E. B., Bieman-Copland, S., Kwong See, S.T., Ellis, C. H., & Anas, A. P. (2002). Age Excuses: Conversational Management of Memory Failures in Older Adults. Journal of Gerontology, 57, 256- 267.

GERO GEMS are a monthly publication of the Center for Aging with Dignity. Compiled by Evelyn Fitzwater, Gero Gems is designed to raise awareness of aging and related issues impacting health care professionals and our society as a whole.

For more information:

Go to the Senior Health health topic, where you can:

Last Reviewed: Aug 02, 2010

Evelyn L Fitzwater, DSN, RN Evelyn L Fitzwater, DSN, RN
Associate Professor Emerita
Associate Director of the
College of Nursing
University of Cincinnati