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The Elderly, Myths/Facts re: Memory, Perception, & Attention

Identify three myths or stereotypes that you have heard that relate to what is supposed to happen to attention, memory, or perception in the older or elderly adult. An understanding of stereotyped thinking about aging allows comparison with scientific information regarding the same areas of behavior, performance, or thought. Describe each myth and the rationale that seems to support its popularity or familiarityĆ¢?"that is, ask yourself why we remember these myths and what makes them lasting. For each of the myths (three total), provide research-based information that either supports the myth's validity or that demonstrates how the myth is not based on fact.
Find recent journal articles (at least two) that address your identified myths or sterotypes. Differentiate facts from opinions in your research articles. Differentiate theories from opinions in your research articles. Include all references. Thanks

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Age
Ageism is prejudice against the elderly and the discrimination based on aging. Many myths exist about the capabilities of older people, especially older women, myths that lead to ill-founded stereotypes. Particularly in the United States, ageism persists in the job market and in the way older people are treated, both in real life and in the media. It is predicted that by the year 2030 one in five Americans will be elderly; more than 8 million will be 85 and over, and most of them will be women. Unless the problem of ageism is addressed, it will be an increasingly serious and far-reaching problem.

Psychologists who study adult development, as well as those in related disciplines such as gerontology, work toward an understanding of the aging process, understanding arising from data based on fact rather than stereotypes and myths.

CliffsNotes.com. Age. 8 Mar 2011
<http://www.cliffsnotes.com/study_guide/topicArticleId-25438,articleId-25432.html>.
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Myths and Facts about Aging

When I was young my Grandma lived with our famly. I am 55, so I grew up in the 60's and 70's. Then, older people were seen as unable to care for themselves after a certain age and many older people went into nursing homes at some point. I lived with an older person, who died when she was 88 years old. I also worked in a nursing home that was within walking distance of my home. Because my Grandma lived with me, I felt compassion for all of the people in the nursing home who didn't have any family to come and visit them. I went to the nursing home and visited with those people I knew felt all alone. Even though I spent a lot of time with the elderly I still had the following misperceptions about the elderly.

* The majority of people over 65 are senile (disoriented or demented).
* All five senses tend to decline in old age, which affect their perception of the world.
* Lung capacity tends to decline in old age, which causes lack of brain function and reduces attention & memory, and causes diminished perception.
* At least 10 percent of the aged are living in longstay institutions (nursing homes. mental hospitals) because they can't take care of themselves due to reduced mental capacity.
* Most older workers cannot work as effectively or efficiently as younger workers.
* About 80 percent of the aged are ONLY healthy enough to carry out all normal daily activities.
* Most old people are set in their ways and unable to change.
* Old people usually take longer to learn something new.
* As we get older, we have more illnesses, which is part of the aging process and should be expected.
* The reaction time of most older people tends to be slower than the reaction time of younger people.
* In general. most older people are pretty much alike.
* "If you don't use it, you lose it."
* Most older people are isolated and lonely.
* The majority of persons over 65 have at least one chronic ailment.
* People tend to have short term and long term memory problems when they get older.
* People start to have many misperceptions as they get older.
* Older people can't focus, and can't do anything that requires concentration.

The multiple rationales that seem to support the many myths that exist can be found in the articles I attached, and the e-zine article below. You can choose your top three myths from the article Myths About Aging. I have included some in my list above only because they fit what I USED to believe.
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Here is another great source:

Police officers' perceptions of older eyewitnesses
Allison M. Wright, Robyn E. HollidayArticle first published online: 24 DEC 2010
DOI: 10.1348/135532505X37001
2005 The British Psychological Society Issue
Legal and Criminological Psychology
Volume 10, Issue 2, pages 211-223, September 2005
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1348/135532505X37001/full

Purpose. This study examined United Kingdom police officers' perceptions about older witnesses (>60 years) and their thoughts about employing the cognitive interview (CI) with this group.

Method. A questionnaire was used to assess officers' opinions about current interviewing protocols for older witnesses, including the CI, and to explore the challenges involved with interviewing older witnesses.

Results. Over half of the officers surveyed perceived older witnesses to be less reliable and less thorough than younger witnesses. Many officers lacked confidence in dealing with the emotional distress and memory loss often displayed by older witnesses and victims. Several officers stated they were inadequately trained and had insufficient time to devote to interviewing in general. Moreover, the number of officers who considered the CI to be helpful with older witnesses was roughly equivalent to the number of officers who believed it was not.

Conclusions. These results suggest that police officers, like mock jurors, consider older adult witnesses and victims to be less reliable and thorough than younger adult witnesses. Furthermore, the results indicate that many officers are not always satisfied with their interviews of older witnesses and victims. Implications for officer training are discussed.

Go to the online library and sign in to read this one:

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1348/135532505X37001/full

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Here is a great e-zine article that you can use to debunk some of the myths about the aged.

The Age Wave - Understanding the Diversity and Needs of Older Clients
By Peter San

Me work with older adults? Not if I can help it! That is frequently the attitude of students I encounter who think of the elderly as a boring and debilitated population residing in nursing homes or other institutional settings. While not saying so in such blunt terms, many clinicians in practice secretly share the same perceptions. The reality is that whether one has planned to or not, working with older adults is an increasing likelihood for all clinicians unless they limit their practice to children and adolescents. Even marriage and family therapists will find more of their caseloads taken up with adult children confronting problem parents (Should they be driving? Can they safely stay in the family home? Are they making bad financial decisions?) rather than problem children. Demographic data tell us that the fastest growing segment of the population is adults over the age of 75, with the over-85 group increasing more than six fold. As Baby Boomers age, the number of adults living well into their 80s and 90s will jump exponentially. Identification and classification of the aging population has proved challenging. For example, gerontologists traditionally identify persons aged 60 years and above as older adults. Researchers, however, often break old age into three categories: the young old (ages 65-75), the old (ages 75Ć¢?"85), and the oldest old (age 85+). Others have argued that health not age should be the criterion so that the young old are all those who are over 65 and healthy while the oldest old are those over 65 who are I'll or disabled. Much of this confusion in terminology is related to the changing character of aging in this country. Current generations of older adults are healthier and better educated than past cohorts. They enter old age with more old_resources and different expectations from those of earlier cohorts. The consequence is that as Baby Boomers age, they will be more psychologically minded and open to psychotherapy as a helpful process than were their parents and grandparents.

*Barriers to Working with older Adults* Unfortunately, the average counselor usually has had little direct contact or experience working with a large number of older adults. This lack of experience can limit the counselors interest in or comfort with this population. As a consequence, it is easy for societal myths about older people and inappropriate stereotypes to Impact the mental health professionals attitudes toward older clients. For example, a common misperception is that most older adults live in nursing homes or other institutional settings. However, the reality is that less than 5% of the elderly population reside in nursing homes. The majority of ...

Solution Summary

This solution addresses the myths/stereotypes related to attention, memory, and perception in the older or elderly.
Ageism is prejudice against the elderly and the discrimination based on aging. Many myths exist about the capabilities of older people, especially older women, myths that lead to ill-founded stereotypes. Particularly in the United States, ageism persists in the job market and in the way older people are treated, both in real life and in the media. It is predicted that by the year 2030 one in five Americans will be elderly; more than 8 million will be 85 and over, and most of them will be women. Unless the problem of ageism is addressed, it will be an increasingly serious and far-reaching problem.
Psychologists who study adult development, as well as those in related disciplines such as gerontology, work toward an understanding of the aging process, understanding arising from data based on fact rather than stereotypes and myths.

The solution points out facts and also that there are many different types of older people, just as there is diversity amoung all groups. It is important to point out that no one myth could be true because there are so many different types of aging individuals. Myths and stereotypes are generalizations, and can't possibly explain the intricate specifics of the aging individual.

The reality is that older adults experience the same broad array of psychological issues and disorders that affect younger adults. To be helpful, counselors need to better understand the diversity of situations and needs of the clients and the wide range of issues and concerns confronting them. This is not a homogenous population. Often the only commonality among them is that they are over the age of 65. Differences in education, health status, economic status, and life experiences are often greater in this group than in younger clients and must be recognized and evaluated if effective treatment is to be provided. Working with older clients presents a challenge to mental health practitioners and demands that they acquire specific knowledge and skills needed to work creatively and effectively with this population. (Unfortunately, few have had even minimal academic or clinical training to prepare them to work competently with older adults.)

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