Table 1: Perceptions and Realities About Seniors
Perceptions Reality
Seniors are generally alone and lonely. Most live with a partner.
Seniors are sick frail and dependent on others. Most live independently.
Seniors are cognitively impaired. Most don't suffer enough of a decline in intellectual abilities to affect daily activities.
Seniors are set in their ways. Studies show that personality remains relatively consistent throughout the lifespan.
Seniors are depressed. Health Canada reports lower rates of hospitalization among seniors for depression than among persons aged 45 and under.
Learning opportunities for seniors are not as important as learning opportunities for younger adults. Learning for a career or employment is given greater importance and priority than other reasons for learning.

Source: Nova Scotia Senior Citizens’ Secretariat. 2003. Enhancing the Basic Learning Skills of Older Nova Scotians

Seniors who improve their basic English reading and writing skills can enhance their health and well-being. Benefits may include:

  • being able to live independently as long as possible;
  • being able to handle one’s personal finances and avoid ‘scams’;
  • remaining healthy and fit;
  • continuing to be socially involved and connected to one’s community;
  • participating in the labour market, and
  • Coping with automation such as bank machines, telephone messaging services and computers.5

5 Nova Scotia Senior Citizens’ Secretariat. 2003. Enhancing the Basic Learning Skills of Older Nova Scotians