Are all old people alike?

The short answer is: no. People actually become more diverse as they age. Health-wise, 20-somethings have more in common than octogenarians (folks in their 80's). You will find elders in that age bracket who still hit the gym everyday, need no medications, travel the world and who remain mentally sharp. On the other end, you'll find some so frail they are bedbound, completely dependent on others. There are also many, many elders who fall somewhere in between. That diversity is what makes working with elders so interesting, no two are alike.

One commonly held stereotype about senior citizens is that once we turn 60, we turn into part of a ubiquitous army of little blue-haired grannies and grandpas who fumble slowly along with canes, walkers or wheelchairs, unable to feed, bathe or relieve ourselves without help.

The stereotype holds that we all think alike, act alike, crave prune juice, mainline Geritol and drool on ourselves as we wait to die.

But the reality is quite different.

First of all, age affects different people differently, depending, of course, on lifestyle, genetics and economics. Take Jack LaLane, for instance. Even in his 90s, the health nut who became famous on TV showing people how to exercise with chairs to cheesy music can kick your butt.

There are many other stereotype busters. Ever see Raquel Welch lately? She may be a senior citizen, but does she look like a shriveled up husk to you?

Then there are those Tarahumaras. How many of you 20-somethings out there can run one mile, let alone hundreds?

Sure, age does slow us down, both mentally and physically. We tire more easily, get confused more quickly. But check out any golf course in Florida. Even on the hottest of days, you will see spry senior citizens walking around, swatting little white balls into little holes on fast greens.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.