Feeling Sad about Getting Older - Ageing Anxiety

Written by: Ankita Kathad – MA (Clinical Psychology)
Last updated date : March 13, 2022

As kids and teenagers, we used to always look forward to our birthdays. Getting mature was the aim. As soon as we hit the late 30s or early 40s, birthdays become less enjoyable. We hardly await them. Some fear the thought of ageing. Why do we get sad about growing older? This article aims to explore why people end up feeling sad about getting older.

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Chapter 1:

Why Do We Feel Sad about Getting Older?

Many people begin worrying about their age as they hit their early 40s. There could be many reasons why we feel sad about getting older. Let’s look at some of them:

  • Losing youth: We start showing signs of ageing as we grow older. We begin to get wrinkles. For some of us, greying of hair begins. We may look in the mirror and start feeling sad about getting older. What we see in the mirror is an ageing person. This may disappoint us. Our eyes start to sag. Additionally, our body begins to go out of proportion.
  • Losing physical agility: We may find ourselves gasping for breath after climbing a few stairs. With exception of those who exercise regularly, most of us may begin to get tired easily. Firstly our physical strength will reduce, secondly we may not be able to compete with the younger crowd. We may not be able to play our favourite sport with the same stamina.
  • Too little time: In our 40s and early 50s we are struggling with our older parents to look after, a marriage to manage and having to support the kids. We may feel that there is a lot to do but too less time to enjoy. We may start feeling drained. Moreover, we may also not have time for self-development.
  • Death anxiety: As children, we look forward to growing up due to the exciting things that the youth phase offers. However, as we reach our 40s and 50s, we realise the fact that we only have a few more years to live.
  • Retirement: For many, worries about age start after 59 years of age when they near retirement. Till then, life usually is very busy for them. They start thinking, what next?

Chapter 2:

What Is a Growing up Phobia?

The irrational fear of growing up is better known as Gerascophobia. In this, a person will act unreasonably out of fear of growing up. Just like other phobias, this is characterised by an irrational fear of ageing. Some symptoms of this condition are:

  • Hanging out with only younger people
  • Not consuming nutritious food as nutrients lead to growth
  • Fear of birthdays
  • Avoidant coping mechanisms
  • A person may not discuss death or ageing.

Chapter 3:

Old Age Stereotypes- A Major Reason Cause behind Feeling Sad about Getting Older

As a rule, most of us go through similar sequences of growing up. We are children first, we become adolescents, become adults and finally older adults. Most of us start to worry as we begin to age. This is because we begin to realise that we cannot bring our young days back. As soon as we start nearing the date, we become anxious. Moreover, we start to notice that there are many stereotypes associated with getting old. Let us look at some of them.

  • As I grow old, I cant learn new things: This is a myth. Many older adults can learn new skills. Due to lack of time and the burden of family, many of us can’t find time to learn. However, there is no age for learning.
  • I Shouldn’t exercise as I am growing old: On the contrary, as we grow up, exercise becomes very important to keep ourselves free of diseases. Keeping ourselves active is the key to a long and healthy life.
  • As I age, I will have multiple disorders: While it is true that many disorders and illnesses onset during adulthood and late adulthood. However, it is not a rule. Maintaining a proper diet, exercising daily and limiting junk food are important in keeping diseases at bay. Moreover, if you are aware of your risk factors for developing a condition, you can take preventive measures to reduce the possibility.
  • Now the younger population will ignore me: The younger generation needs advice too. They learn a lot from their experiences. Moreover, the youth can make impulsive decisions. The adults can keep them away from harm.
  • Now I cannot drive, run or hike: Many times, our perceptions and thoughts stop us from achieving a goal. That is to say, our thoughts stop us and not the age.

Chapter 4:

How Do I Stop Feeling Sad about Getting Older

Death is a reality. However brutal it may be. Our life comes with an expiration date. However, if we constantly feel sad about getting older, we cannot live life to the fullest. Our worries can stop us from exploring life. We may stop having fun We will always be extra careful in life. We will start avoiding important events like our birthdays, colleagues’ birthdays or retirement parties. The death of our parents or anyone else can overwhelm us.

Let us look at some ways in which we can stop feeling sad about getting old.

  • Do things you’ve wanted to do: You may want to go hiking, bungee jumping or even engage in gardening. Due to some reasons, doing that was not possible. Take out some time to experience them at least once!
  • It’s never too late: You can still maintain a workout regime, eat healthy food, quit bad habits and take better care of yourselves. Take action!
  • Start exploring: Say yes to exciting things. Start experiencing new things in life. Go on a trip, ride a bike or a club. Be mindful of your health too! Do things that make you happy.
  • Practice gratitude: Not everyone could come this far as you. Feel lucky and blessed. Additionally, you can evaluate your success and feel grateful. If you have faced failure, don’t worry. There is still hope and time.

Chapter 5:

Cherishing Life

A very important reason why most of us end up feeling sad about getting old is that we live in denial. We find it hard to accept the truth that everything alive on this earth comes to an end. From our 20s to-40s, there are many important events taking place in life. Time seems to be rushing and we feel that there was less time to enjoy life. However, it is important to understand the truth of death to live in peace.

Death anxiety is not uncommon. It hits most of us at some point in life. That is to say that we all may have thoughts about getting old and it can leave many of us feeling sad about getting old. However, why waste time being miserable when we can make use of the time we have? In life, we can do so much in the given time. It is irrational to expect that all of us will feel cheerful about life all the time. We have our ups and downs in life. However, we should consider getting old as a gift. Moreover, we are not just getting old, we are gaining experiences. Let’s use them to become wise.

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"Practical and insightful" David

70 sections

6-Weeks Self-Paced

  • Educational Content
  • Quizzes
  • Self-reflection material
  • Suggestions & feedback
  • Worksheet, tips & tools to use

$9.00 $12.00

25% discount