Do seniors really get grumpy as they get older? If you believe what you see on television and in the movies, it’s certainly the accepted stereotype. The truth is this: we now know it’s not true.     

     It isn’t just the media that’s to blame for the erroneous characterizations of “grumpy old men and women.” The medical and scientific communities have also helped to fuel certain misconceptions because of their long-held assumptions about aging. As an example, for years many geriatric “experts” simply assumed people got more depressed as they aged. Believing this to be true, they also assumed that getting grumpier was also part of getting older. Now, after years of improved longevity research, it’s been determined that older people do not get more depressed than younger adults. In fact, according to the National Psychological Association, “Community dwelling older adults have lower rates of diagnosable depression than younger adults.” In addition, The Centers for Disease Control have found that “due to their higher rates of depression, younger adults have higher rates of suicide than older adults.”

     Not only do seniors not get more depressed and grumpier than other age groups, they actually have more control over their emotions. Laura Carstensen, a leading expert on aging and founding director of the Stanford Center on Longevity, has concluded that “emotional experience and regulation improve with age.” She has also determined that older adults have a higher degree of emotional wisdom and are better at judging the character of strangers. Additionally, older adults have also been found to maintain stronger emotional bonds within their personal relationships.

     I don’t know about you, but it seems to me this latest research on aging and depression has certainly blown a hole in the “Grumpy Old Man Myth.” As a matter-of-fact, if I didn’t have such a positive outlook and strong emotional control, I’d be pretty grumpy about the old stereotype.