Royce Shook

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What do younger adults think about ageing?

A Place For Mom recently did a survey to see what younger people think about ageing. The results are interesting. Some fear physical frailty while others look forward to having more time for hobbies, but which preconceptions are right, and which are wrong? They surveyed 2,000 people aged 16-34 then checked their beliefs against the evidence to find out. So, the first question asked was what is old age. There is a difference between young women and young men on this issue.


59% of female respondents chose 61 as ‘old,’ whereas those identified as male went with 56.

Here are the questions asked and the answers given along with the research.

#1“ People’s driving skills decline as they age.”

72% of young people think is true. The Research says: this is mostly false. Contrary to popular belief, older drivers aren’t all that more dangerous than their younger counterparts. According to the Federal Highway Safety Administration, drivers aged 65+ make up 19% of crash victims, which is twice as low as drivers aged 16-34 who make up 38%.

In another study by Consumer Reports, seniors were found to have fewer crashes per mile driven than their younger counterparts, while research from the University of Swansea suggests that drivers aged 17 to 21 are four times more likely to crash their car than senior drivers.

#2“As people age, they become lonelier.”

42% of youngsters think this is true. The research says: this is mostly true. Indeed, the time we spend alone increases as we get older. According to an analysis of the American Time Use Survey, by age 60 we spend more than 6 hours a day completely unaccompanied, a number that goes up to 8 when we hit 80. That said, the youngest generation – ‘Generation Z’ – is reported to feel the loneliest of all, according to a study by Cigna.  By all accounts, loneliness is on the rise. In fact, it’s become such an issue that governments have begun getting involved to tackle the problem. On an individual level, people can take the initiative to engage in purposeful activities that build connections. There’s new research exploring how empathy and compassion can prevent loneliness, and helping others – even in seemingly small ways – can have an enormous impact.

#3“ People like their bodies less when they get old.”

54% of young people think this is true while the research says this is false. As we age, so do our bodies. However, contrary to what young people believe, that doesn’t mean we like them less. A Gallup poll of 85,145 American adults found that our perception of our own appearance peaks when we’re in our 70s and 80s.

#4“ As people get older, their physical health and general mobility decline.”

87% of young people think this is true while the research supports this view.  As much as we would like this to be false, there’s little we can do about our ageing bodies. Medical research points to the fact that after reaching 50, we lose 12-14% of our muscular strength with every decade. Unsurprisingly, we’re 30-40% more likely to fall over after the age of 60. It’s not all doom and gloom, however. According to the World Health Organisation, reduced mobility among Americans aged 65 or older is down 25%, while the Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine claims over-60s still have a chance to regain the heart health of someone decades younger through exercise.

#5“ When people get older, they lose touch with modern technology.”

55% of young people think this is true, but the research supports the idea that seniors stay in touch with technology. Seniors might not have the same skills when it comes to handling gadgets and technology, but it doesn’t mean they’re not actively using them. Pew Research Center found that 67% of senior Americans use the internet, and 51% have broadband at home. Another study by Pew found 64% of people aged 50-64 and 37% of those aged 65+ use social media, while 70% of older people who use Facebook use it on a daily basis.

How are young people doing so far, out of the 5 questions asked, the youngsters have been right only 2 out of 5 or 40% of the time. Tomorrow we will look at questions 6 to 10 to see if they do any better. By the way, how did you do?


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