News for Professionals

Memory Myths
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If you have a memory myth that you’d like debunked, please email it to, and we’ll post it on our website.

Myth #1

Nearly 2 million older adults live in households with at least one grandchild.

TRUE: A total of about 1.94 million older people lived in household with a grandchild present in the house.

Myth #2

Over the last thirty years, the percentage of older adults who are divorced or separated has not significantly changed.

FALSE: In 1980 the figure was 5.3%. In 2010, it was 12.4%.

Myth #3

In 2011, the poverty level among older Americans was about 16%.

TRUE: However, this is based on the U.S. Census Bureau Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM), which takes into account regional variations in the livings costs, non-cash benefits received, and non-discretionary expenditures. The SPM shows a poverty level for older persons of 15.9%.

Myth #4

The 85+ y/o population in the U.S. is projected to be about 6.5 million in 2020.

TRUE: According to the Department of Health and Human Services, the figure is 6.6 million.

Myth #5

Nearly 1/2 million grandparents aged 65 or older have primary responsibility for their grandchildren who lived with them.

TRUE: About 490,000

Myth #6

Every two out of three women ages 75 and older live alone.

FALSE: 47% live alone.

Myth #7

Older men are more likely to be married than older women.

TRUE: 72% of men vs. 42% of women.

Myth #8

The average number of medication prescriptions of American older adults is 4-5.

TRUE: However, the number is closer to ten for those in nursing homes.

Myth #9

Older adults account for approximately half of all medication prescriptions in the U.S.

FALSE: Older adults account for about one-third. They represent about 13% of the total population.

Myth #10

The U.S. is the world's largest wheelchair "user" with more than three million users.

TRUE: According to the Institute of Transport Studies, the U.S. is the world's largest consumer of wheelchairs with approximately 3.3 million users.