If you talk to a younger person about how he feels about his own ageing, he is likely to express some concern. And it is normal. It is the fear of the unknown and the uncertainty of what can happen. Here we comment some fears that often mention the youngest and that is known as gerascophobia.
1. Fear of disability. This is a reasonable concern. The longer we live, the more likely we are to see our mobility reduced or damaged.
What can we do? We can make lifestyle decisions to reduce the risk of suffering some type of disability in the future: exercise, eat a healthy diet, schedule regular medical appointments, maintain a healthy weight, don´t smoke and don`t drink too much. At the same time, we can cover our bases by studying the resources that would allow us to be as independent as possible if we were to experience a disability. When it comes to planning long-term care, the sooner the better.
2. Fear of Alzheimer's. This, too, is a reasonable fear. Although the percentage of older people who develop Alzheimer's disease has actually decreased in recent years, it is a possibility that we should all consider.
What can we do? As in the case of physical disability, healthy lifestyle choices reduce the risk of dementia. We can make healthy decisions for the brain at any age, but neurologists tell us that the sooner we start the better. The things we do in our early years, from exercising to learning to play a musical instrument or studying a second language, help us accumulate brain reserves that can prevent the symptoms of dementia.
3. Fear of running out of money. Unless you are very rich, this is a very normal fear, and more so in the days that are running. Many people think that they can live exclusively with Social Security pensions, or simply deny the need to save for their retirement years.
What can we do? The best retirement savings plan begins when we are young, allowing years for our money to grow. Many of today's youth say it is harder to set aside retirement savings because student loans and higher housing costs get in the way. Fewer people retire at age 65 these days. You can decide to continue working after retirement age, because you love your job, stay active and connected, or, of course, for the money. As your career progresses, be sure to keep your skills up to date.
4. Fear of being alone and bored. We often hear about older people "confined to the home," and the image of a retired elderly man sitting alone on a park bench is a common cliche. It is true that the circumstances of later life (disability, reduced income, loss of loved ones) can make it more difficult to be socially connected. And experts warn that isolation and loneliness are as bad for our health as smoking or obesity. We need to be with others. We need to know that others value us.
What can we do? When planning the future, do not forget to make socialization a goal. Will your long-term home continue to offer opportunities to spend time with others? If not, where could you move? Do not overlook the advantages of a community of older people or services in the home that can keep you active. Learn about volunteer opportunities that can create a sense of purpose, increase self-esteem and combat depression. Stay in touch with friends for life, and make lifestyle choices that help you build lasting friendships.
5. Reach the end of life. This may seem like a surprising element to appear on this list. Most of us would prefer to stop thinking about the subject of our own death, however, as we think about aging, it is probably in the back of our mind.
What can we do? No matter what your spiritual beliefs are, or even if you do not describe yourself as spiritually minded, thinking about life in its entirety, including the end, can provide you with a sense of perspective. Think and talk about the things that are important to you. What do you want to achieve? What do you want to leave behind? We can also take practical measures to reassure you, such as estate planning and the manifestation of your wishes in a living will.
Health anxiety (the modern term for hypochondria) causes our brain to release chemicals that increase inflammation, which can damage our health in many ways. So, with regard to aging, although we can not stop the clock or control all the obstacles and challenges that life can present us, we can turn our fears into action, which throughout our lives will make us healthier.
And this brings us to that final fear, which does not appear on the list of so many people, but it should definitely:
6. Fear of age discrimination. While imagining the previous version of themselves, younger people often see that projection through a lens of prejudice against the elderly. We see it every day.
Younger people may well fear that the same negative attitudes they have about older adults will come back to haunt them. Now is the time to examine and reject those attitudes, so that by the time you reach the higher status, you are less likely to internalize those negative stereotypes.
If you have disabilities, even if you have memory loss, you will continue to value your ability to do what you want to do and to interact with other people in a meaningful way. Some of your interests and passions for life will remain the same. New interests and activities can appear that you can not even imagine, things that you will love and that will make you happy that your life plan allows you to do them. Be kind to your future self! Plan ahead your future years and work with others to create a society where older adults are valued and respected.