Old age it happens to all of us, the years slowly creeping upon us and our body and mental faculties slowly breaking down…yeah old age sucks; no wonder people are suffering from Gerascophobia – the incessant fear of growing old. However what does the person on the street- (ok it’s the internet but you get what I mean) have to say is the worst part of growing old?
I logged into several chats and social media forums and asked around to get what the people have to say on the matter.
Across the board, this was one of the things most people linked with getting older; the fact that as we get older those that we are close to leaving us in one way or another was the number one fear.
For some, this was parents and elder relatives eventual deaths and watching them decline and family gatherings getting smaller and people missing from future get-togethers. Some it was the deaths of siblings and the fear of being the last one left.
For others, it was the loss of friends through moving away or lives moving along and things just getting in the way of social occasions. No matter how close you are with friends and family, situations will take you far away from many of them unavoidable, be it a career, marriage or just moving away.
Loss of looks
This was definitely a female concern but surprising many men also voiced their worries and how it affected their self-esteem.
Most of the problems seemed to be the feeling of being much younger than their actual age and the outside not reflecting the inside. Feeling still as spiritedly and goofy on the inside but looking in your fifties on the outside and your body just doesn’t have the energy and stamina of even 5 years ago.
Some couldn’t quite believe the changes in their bodies- menopause be damned- from extra weight to hot flushes and blemishes to thinning hair it was all too much. An irrational fear of menopause setting in was also an issue for women. Basically, the problem was being afraid of losing an important aspect of identity as a human being and a woman: sexuality.
For men the top concern was “male patterned baldness”, this rang true for a lot of men out there with looks and how they were perceived by younger members of the opposite sex being one of their top concerns- although losing the hair might not be the only concern; once pristine heads of hair showing the telltale signs of age by turning grey. Across the whole spectrum regardless of gender, this kept coming up again and again. Although some had started dyeing their hair to ward this off others were glad of “ the distinguished halo” like it was a badge of honor.
Wrinkles were another contrasting point with some frantically looking to keep them at bay whilst others loved their lines saying each one told a story and whether that story be bad or good it was part of them.
Physical health decline
Physical health decline whether it was body or mind also weighed heavily on most. The fears that their body or mind would eventually stop them doing the things they loved or slow them down so they could no longer enjoy their lives as they did now, was a major concern in which everyone had a horror story of a loved one having declined before their eyes.
But it wasn’t just the big specter of dementia or arthritis but niggling health problems that seemed to crop up, no matter how intensely healthy your lifestyle was or is. It became as, one person put it, a raw deal. We used to run and jump and play, but now our body’s hurt when we wake up.
For men, the fear of impotence was also close to the top of the list of health concerns. With men fearing the loss of virility would mean the end of feeling desirable to the other sex.
Some users across all the platforms were concerned about how their ideas are so far from the younger generation and wonder what it’ll mean for their old age.
Teachers especially seemed to voice this fear. Reporting that when asked about vocations and future plans their students usually answered with ‘I don’t know whatever makes me lots of money’, they also wondered what would become of their students who had little knowledge of what awaited them after high school or college, the narrowness of their plans – get the diploma or degree and it’ll all work out and if not then they will become a Youtube star or something.
But of course the biggest problem, and a major one at that, was the loss of being able to ‘get’ modern music, something we all swore would never happen to us but I officially don’t get large swaths of pop culture, music, and humor which kids idolize; meanwhile songs I loved and bands I adored are playing on classic radio stations or during the golden oldies hour!
Things we depended on disappearing
Similar to the generation gap is the fact that technologies and traditions we used to rely on have disappeared the next generation has no idea of our former struggles. Realizing the world is a totally different place now than when we were younger.
I could write a pretty lengthy list of common everyday things that I used on a daily basis up until the last 20 or so years that have disappeared. My home answering machine was something I checked 3 or 4 times a day. The checkbook with the little ledger that kept track of my expenditures. The writing paper I bought to send letters. I could go on and on.
Things we once saw every day also disappearing was also a major point for some, things like the phone booth on the corner or local kid delivering the newspaper, the guy down the block being the milkman, people delivering to the door were also something people missed.
The assumption you can’t do things anymore
We all did it ourselves when we were young, sat down with an older member of the family and tried to explain something to them, for me it was email and dial-up internet to my elder relatives- a thankless task. However, I always found myself back then surprised when an older person understood how to use the internet and now it’s those that understand amazon and the streaming services.
However, as we get older, the fact we understand and can use these technologies is a ‘marvel’ of the modern age to some. Teenagers especially feel the need to explain apps and the latest trends within them- like I once did to my relatives.
Mental health decline
This is the one we all don’t want to think about becoming trapped by our own mind declining. We will all get a little bit slower when working things out as we age but the specter of Alzheimer’s or dementia and generally losing our cognitive abilities seems to be the thing no one wants to talk about.
The fear of mental decline. Every word forgotten, every mix-up at work makes some wonder if they are ‘losing it’. Watching others slowly decline has left almost trapped from the outside world and the lack of being able to reach these people now and the love and friendship once shared is lost.
All in all, people seem concerned that being old is going to be a case of slowly fading and because of this losing zest for life through loss of friends and relatives, social interactions or looks or the physical and mental decline. What do you think what is the worse part for you getting older?