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LornaLove's avatar

Do you find growing older scary?

Asked by LornaLove (6867 points ) April 16th, 2014

This could be relative of course, but I found turning 50 terrifying.

To my mind, being 50 meant that from now on, I am always getting older, as in much older. I spent tons of time in old age homes and to me they were terrifying.

Being old means more than losing your looks. The scary part is losing who I am, if that is true? I don’t know. Perhaps older people here can share about how they did not lose who they were. Perhaps they found themselves instead.

Like any fear, I reckon for me its a journey. It is a bit like being told I cannot walk again, I will eventually (I hope) come out the other side a better stronger person.

People say age is but a number. I don’t really think so. Being a certain age slams many doors in your face. My plans have to be shorter! For obvious reasons. For all the doors closing are there more opening?

Even if you are not 50 you could have insight into this question, please do share. Or, maybe you found more purpose and a better life in growing old. Inspirations or complaints all welcome!

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65 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

No, given the alternative. It requires the same set of problem-solving skills I have used all my life. Getting stuck on how your appearance changes is a guaranteed RX for misery, however.

PhiNotPi's avatar

Yes, and I’m not even a legal adult yet!

janbb's avatar

It does bother me that I have ever less time to fulfill my desires and I do worry about the end of life years – the potential pain and mental decline. But I am ever more happy with myself and more content with my looks and my health than I was when I was younger so those are blessings. (And while I am lonelier, not being around someone who was constantly invalidating me is a big plus.) It is more the uncertainty wrought by my change in marital status that worries me than aging per se.

Symbeline's avatar

I can’t say I’m scared, but what I’m not looking forward to is health issues. My grandmother always looked after herself, ate well, never drank or smoke, and today at 83 she’s still active, and her brain hasn’t failed her. But she does tell me that every day, all day, something somewhere is always hurting. Knees, arms, she needs naps every day, plus now she has to take pills for her heart for the rest of her life.
She tells me that is sucks that there’s always some pain, although otherwise she’s happy with her life. Dying doesn’t scare her either, but she says it does make her sad to know that pretty soon it’s going to happen. and me too

Dutchess_III's avatar

It’s a pain in the butt, but not so scary.

zenvelo's avatar

I turn 59 next month. Ages ending in 9 just suck, because you’re getting ready to jump into a new demographic. And you’re being phased out of an old demographic. And where it gets in my face in a very unpleasant way is one falls out of eligibility for many potential suitors on line.

None of this was really a concern to me until I turned 55. That corner was a tough one, no way to think about it in any way other than “old.”

And what scares me about aging is seeing deterioration and inability to do things that I see in older acquaintances.

But I still feel like I am in my thirties, and am active enough to not be restricted to “act my age.” I’m actually in the best shape I have been since I was a teenager. So, I am not so scared about aging, because I think I know enough to maintain a quality of life.

Pachy's avatar

Yes. A lot.

Dan_Lyons's avatar

It doesn’t matter much what number you represent this year. What matters is your health and well being. Growing old healthy beats growing old unhealthy by a factor of ten thousand!

I returned for a high school reunion (40th) a few years ago. I was surprised to see most of my friends had grown visibly into old people. But there was a handful of us who may have had a bit of grey, and a few more wrinkles, but on the whole we looked, felt and acted like we were still in our twenties.

After a bit of discussion as to what might cause this phenomena, we decided it was due to our attitude.
Those of us who didn’t let things bother us hadn’t aged as rapidly as those who let every little thing cause them to go ballistic.

So do yourself a favor. Learn how to quit worrying and being fearful of things out of your control and you may not extend your longevity, but you will have a substantially healthier being with which to enjoy it.

canidmajor's avatar

Scary? No. Aging presents a different set of problems to be dealt with but it happens to most of us at a pace that is workable. Unfortunately it tends to involve an increase in pain, a decrease in physical abilities, and a loss of visibility to the general public.
IMO, however, it still beats the hell out of the alternative.
Loss of cognition because of a head injury or loss of physical competence because of trauma are things I find much more frightening.

non_omnis_moriar's avatar

I think by 60 you’ve downsized and, most of us, have stopped dreaming of what we want to accomplish in the future. And that is a hard thing to deal with.

The aches and pains are a clear reality. Age is not just a number.

GloPro's avatar

I find aging sad, liberating, scary, physically frustrating, enlightening. It really depends on the day. I’m not one to think too hard about things I cannot control.

Yetanotheruser's avatar

I don’t find aging scary at all. Some people tell my I’m getting absent-minded in my old age, but I know I’v been absent-minded all my life…I think!

Seriously, though, at 65, I feel like I should be in my forties. A few aches here, much less indigestion (I had an ulcer treated about 20 years ago).

IMHO age is a state of mind that can clearly be affected by health and surroundings, but mostly by attitude. I try to treat every day as a new day, something to be thankful for. One of the drawbacks of age is that some of my dear friends are not around anymore. But one of the pluses is that I seem to be meeting new friends all the time.

kevbo's avatar

I turned 40 this past year, and it has been the best year for me since I my teens, although age has nothing really to do with the change. Aging perhaps has some to do with it.

A door opened for me this year that has given me some insight that life as a person, what we generally take ourselves to be, is propped up by incredible amounts of energy—what we think we are, what we do and want to do and want to avoid are all the byproduct of attention, belief and identity. What I learned is that it’s possible to pull back from this and identify oneself as the awareness that observes these things. This “escape” from being a person who “rages against the dying of the light” to becoming synonymous with the light itself is freeing and beautiful and difficult to describe all at once and allows for complete or nearly complete synchronicity and serendipity. For me, although I am still vacillating from a conventional point of view to this one and back, it truly is the end of all worry and breeds utter confidence that life will take care of itself. It’s only something to watch and enjoy from a place of complete freedom.

I spent most of my adult life with a consistent wish to be dead and with a dire view of the world. I couldn’t imagine that this was the sort of death, a death of the ego, that was waiting to bloom. Now, again with some vacillation, I am very much content to be and observe.

Winter_Pariah's avatar

No, but then again I already came to terms with my existence at a fairly young age. What does frighten me at times though is when some thug comes looking to mug me or whatnot and the first thought that springs to mind isn’t of self preservation but, “This looks like fun.” I have to actively reign in the leash on myself and remind myself that I do have a goal to strive for which won’t be satisfied or obtained by chasing after every last ephemeral high that comes my way.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Only if I am around children; they add a exclamation mark to my inevitable mortality. However, death doesn’t scare me, I welcome it as a chance to go home and get out of this cracker barrel.

creative1's avatar

the older I get the less I care that I’m getting old, I just don’t want to die before my daughters are grown and can care for themselves. The rest I just take it all day by day and try to enjoy myself along the way since i’ve only got one life to live.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Growing old is rewarding. The furthest thing from scary.

anniereborn's avatar

Turning 40 was really hard for me. I am now almost 46 and physically I am starting to roll down hill. I fear how much worse it will get every year.
However the “older and wiser” thing seems to be true for me. But I find myself thinking
“I wish I would have figured out these things when I was young, so I could actually have put them to better use.”
My mother (and grandmother) has Alzheimers. She was diagnosed 12 years ago and has lived in a nursing home for 6. It’s a good nursing home. But, her life is….horrible. I am sad and upset for her all the time. And I worry for my siblings and myself a lot.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

No. It was a lot scarier when I was younger, especially in my twenties. There are a lot of crossroads during that stage in life and the choices are extremely important as to how it will affect one’s future. It looks a lot scarier now in hindsight than it did at the time, though, becasue at the time I was immortal and could do no wrong. I think that is one of life’s tender mercies, that young people are like that. It keeps them from being completely paralyzed in the face of life’s often overwhelming challenges.

Now I realize that the way I was raised—parents, teachers, later mentors—and a fast learning curve saved my ass. The crossroads still appear on the horizon, but now I can see them coming from a long way off because I’ve seen most of them before. I’ve developed a knowledge base and intuition to go with it. These are gifts of age.

There are many drawbacks to getting older, but staying true to one’s self and replacing those fading good looks and strong body with as much wisdom and understanding as possible will save you from a lot of the discomforts and grief.

majorrich's avatar

Aside from the obvious slings and arrows lobbed my way by my friends on the “0” birthdays. I have no fear of growing old. I have cheated death, and lived the years I have had as hard and fast as I could. I really fear growing UP! I never wish to become a crotchety oldster complaining about our youth and pining for the ‘old days’. I take great satisfaction that kids are discovering music from my era as cool that I/we got to enjoy the first time around.

JLeslie's avatar

I don’t dwell on it to much, but I am afraid of being in pain. If I don’t do some things daily, I wind up in a lot of discomfort. Having to rely on someone to maybe do it for me is scary. I feel 100% sure it would not be done consistently daily. Also, with my neck and shoulder injury from accident having my pillows in the perfect position is very important. Sleeping badly also can cause me severe pain for days or even weeks. I also have a hard to regulate thyroid and I again feel 100% sure if I was not able to speak for myself, or less about to understand what is told to me, or less able mentally to fight for myself, I would feel terrible much of the time and wind up on unnecessary medicine for ailments related to my thyroid rather than fixing the medication dose for my thyroid.

Bluefreedom's avatar

I don’t find it scary so much as I find it irritating in some respects. I was diagnosed with diabetes at 39 years old and arthritis in both of my knees at 41. That kind of sucks.

BeenThereSaidThat's avatar

today is actually my birthday. I woke up depressed but then I said to myself “what the hell, at least you are alive”.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@LornaLove You can manage it so you my get older in age without getting older in body and mind. The most important thing is to stay active, physically and mentally. Don’t use it you lose it. I weigh the same amount as I did as a senior in high school. My only pain is in my knees and I’ve had that since I was a teenager from sports injuries. I manage it better by keeping the knees exercised. The hair loss sucks, but I’ve never had a person talk to my hair. I have fun and keep positive, my diet is good, and I always smile and greet everyone around me with a smile and positive energy. And I’m still as horny as a teenager.:)

ibstubro's avatar

I’ll be with @GloPro on this one: ” I’m not one to think too hard about things I cannot control.”

40 was my milestone. I hit it, I’m old, so what? It’s like I spent 40 years climbing a hill, reached the top, and it’s easy traveling until I hit the flat road again. The only fear is something giving you so much momentum that you roll to the end too fast. I may get that DNR tattoo yet. :)

Face it. We’re not in control of our own mortality, and why make yourself miserable worrying about it? Find joy in every day.

Mimishu1995's avatar

Getting old doesn’t matter to me, losing my pure heart, turning into an old asshole, and dying are what matter.

LornaLove's avatar

Lovely answers, interestingly a lot spoke of pain. I’ve had for ages a sore ankle. I don’t know why it is sore and it frustrates me. Is this the beginning of the pain I wonder?

What is it about old age that causes pain? Inflammation? I need to get on that!

It’s so true though, we can change the vehicle we grow old in. I am trying, one day at a time. :)

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

You want to know what I did to me knees that they feel the need to pay me back? :)

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

When I was 8 my father and I were screwing around on ice on a snowmobile. We caught an edge and went over. All 180 pounds of him landed on my knee. When I was 12 I wrecked on a bike in front of a funeral home. All my weight hit the same knee. Three weeks later a guy hit me in the same knee defending third base. I tried to play football in school, I got hit on the other knee. I switched to basketball, but it still was a bit rough on them. Think I have any reason to blame anyone but me when they hurt? With regular exercise it’s not too bad.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@LornaLove My s/o just pointed out a great argument that growing old has it’s advantages. I just bought a John Fogerty and a The Band CD at Walmart from the $5.00 bin. They want $15 or $16 for a Justin Bieber CD. I can’t spell the idiots name but I’m not going to look it up.

TheRealOldHippie's avatar

Older, no. Old, yes. People who are “old” are incapable for whatever reason of doing things on their own, need help in crossing the street, are losing their memory and are unable to reason things out properly. Older just means you’re getting more mature. Some people who get older never really get “old” and remain active and vital until the end of their days. I’ve also known people in their 30’s whom you would have sworn were in their 70’s because they looked and acted it. It’s all a state of mind.

Coloma's avatar

I am 54 and am fine with my age, mortality and looks, well..I do kinda wish I still had my 20 year old body sometimes, haha I have my aches and pains and for sure have felt my age more the last couple years, but no, on an existential level I am not afraid of aging or dying and fully plan on my own euthanasia if/when the quality of my life is unsatisfactory. I have zero desire to live to be in my later 80’s, 90’s, or, god freaking forbid 100.

I am too much of a life lover and epicure, I will do myself in when the totality of my life quality is all played out, be it physically or, perhaps even financially.
I think this whole push to live to be 120 is insane. You’re talking years of decline, loss of mobility, slowly rotting away from dementia on all levels. Not to mention the gross burden on the system, family, health care. No thanks…I’m secure enough to volunteer to take my leave when the time is appropriate.

rojo's avatar

Scared, no. Pissed off because I cannot do what I used to? Yes.

tinyfaery's avatar

I don’t like it, but I’m not scared. I hope I go early and never have to be elderly. That’s scary.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

I have a little thing I do when I’m up against it. I ask “What Would Zorba Do?” Then I do my Anthony Quinn thing and usually get past it with dignity intact.

ibstubro's avatar

Never a truer song was sung than, “I’m not as good as I once was, but I’m as good, once, as I ever was.” I hold that tight.

rojo's avatar

@Espiritus_Corvus Break into dance?

janbb's avatar

da-da-duh-duh-duh-duh-da-da-duh-duh-duh-duh…......

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

You bet. Right there on the beach. HOPAAAA!!! Come join me!

janbb's avatar

@Espiritus_Corvus Ok, kiddo – that nails it. I’m on the next plane down. If you’re naked and dancing, I’ll swim there.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

Bring the zither. And a fiddler. I have the fiddle. We’ll build a fire tonight!

janbb's avatar

Do you have a roof? If we put Betsy and Sam on the roof, we can get into a combination Marc Chagall and Zorba thingy which would be fun!

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

Hell, we’ll do Zorba, Chagall, and Topol! Where’s the Retsina? Mavrodaphne for the timid! Ouzo for the Brave!

janbb's avatar

And the cruise from Honfleur down the Seine in the Fall?

(I’m deep into escapist mode today.)

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

Damn, me too. It’s raining cats ‘n dogs Have you given any thought to when we dock our scow at Rouen under the shadow of the cathedral? I think about that sometimes. We go off to get fresh bread and scour the bookstalls for good books. Risotto with lamb, then off to the cathedral by afternoon. We bribe a guard and watch the sunset from a spire overlooking the river and the city, then cast off at dark to awaken for sunrise in the wetlands outside Paris.

janbb's avatar

(I think next winter we will have to plan this trip out in minute detail.) I painted Rouen Cathedral but not quite the way Monet did.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

Monet était un amateur! Zorba crache sur cette personne Monet!!

janbb's avatar

Un amateur, peut t’etre but tres accomplee. J’ai fait (fu?) un visite a Giverney and cette une bonne ferme. Il a beaucoup d’argent, je croix.

(Do you know that he had caracts when old and that is why his later paintings have a yellowish cast? You probably do.)

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

No, I didn’t. I thought he was just playing with light and weather, like the Parliament series in 1870–71. He and old Renoir with his crippling arthritis. Heroic. So, you saw his gardens, the lily pond? Did you know the first six-toed cat wandered away from there after old master Claude died and found Hemingway barfing in the alley in back of Maxim’s? After a short conversation, H took her home to his apartment where some time later another six-toed cat fell through the bathroom skylight onto his H’s. He wore a scar on his forehead for the rest of his life where the glass had cut him. Only days after that A Sun Also Rises was accepted for publication and there was no way he was going to let the two go. And that’s how the six-toed cats ended up in Key West, according to our story, anyway. It all works out chronologically. And the female was once Monet’s. You like?

janbb's avatar

*cataracts

Yes – I wandered through Giverney and the gardens; he was a lucky man. I saw a wonderful program on PBS years ago about vision and the impressionists – the effect of Japonisme on Van Gogh, his epilepsy and the stuff about Monet. It would be worth tracking down and watching again.

But we have wandered far in our musings from the topic at hand.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

Yeah. Ooooh, I see a PM. I wonder who that could be…

Smitha's avatar

I am more afraid of becoming incapacitated by old age. I prefer to grow old gracefully, and in good health. I remember my Dad once telling me as we grow old we must try to keep a great sense of humor, always keep ourselves busy with different activities and always take care of our appearance and most important thing is to love life. Any age is great, it is a matter of attitude.

Coloma's avatar

@Smitha Very true, to a degree, but I have 2 elderly women neighbors, one is 94 and the other is 96. The 96 yr. old is still motoring along but going blind, the 94 yr. old is suffering from mild dementia, extreme anxiety, and loss of a lot of mobility. Both of them are nosy, neurotic and miserable. No thanks.

Being housebound and having nothing to do but obsess over stupid things and spy on the neighbors and complain incessantly…gah….please just shoot me. haha

jca's avatar

I am late to this discussion and I haven’t yet read the previous answers.

I am 48 with a 6 year old (and yes, she was conceived naturally). She is almost 7. At this point, I am more afraid of the inevitable adolescent years that will be coming around 6 years from now with my daughter. I also worry about my mother’s health – she’s 71.

For me, what I think of as “old age” which I now consider around age 65 and up, is long enough away that it’s not an obsession. Only time will tell where in the country I end up living (and I suspect that a large part of that decision will be determined by my daughter and where she ends up after college). As far as a physical and mental deterioration, I am not yet worried about it.

What I am considering taking up is yoga. I hear that an added benefit of yoga is that it helps to offset shrinking from osteoporosis.

Yetanotheruser's avatar

If you want to see a few young oldsters, check out this video! I want to grow up to be like that!

Coloma's avatar

@Yetanotheruser Hah…that’s great!
Live for the now, live fast, and don’t complain. I can dig it. :-)

anniereborn's avatar

@jca My mom had me when she was 43. She always said her one wish was that she lived long enough that I was “grown up”. I guess at 46 I am :P
She was so very active until her Alzheimer’s set in at about 78.
But I always grew up very conscious of her age. I was always afraid of her getting sick or dying. After never really knowing my grandma as she also had Alzheimer’s and was sick with it when I was a toddler…..I always worried about my mom also getting it. And, alas my worries came true. It sucks “losing” your mom when you are in your 30s.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@anniereborn Sorry you lost her so soon. I think we really appreciate our parents when we’re older. Losing one at that age does suck.

Coloma's avatar

Well…today was a milestone.
No more bikini panties, I bought my first batch of high cut“briefs”. Fuck…how sad is this, but I am tired of my tummy roll, rolling over the bikinis. haha
Next stop granny pants. Bah!

LornaLove's avatar

@Coloma Gosh, you make me laugh. I have the same issue. I say fuck the full panty get rid of the roll!! Just a thought.

Tonight I walked (I think) 10 miles! I went to see the Kelpies. Oh wow! my back was sore, my feet, my ankles. No way am I giving up tho’.This week I have covered some mileage and am also doing yoga. (Newbie).

Next is the gym. I want this old girls vehicle to have fine hooters and no tires. With a big loud horn!

anniereborn's avatar

@Coloma I started wearing those in my 20s. I wasn’t that heavy then, but I wasn’t comfy with bikinis at that point. Now I am quite heavy, and I still use the high thigh cut. Granny panties be damned!

Smitha's avatar

@Coloma: True,they’re bored and don’t have anything better to do with their time. So they are just keeping themselves busy!

rojo's avatar

@Yetanotheruser that was great. My kids gave me a copy of the book Growing Old is not for Sissies a few years back. Hmmm. Just noticed there is a second book. Damn, and my birthday just passed. Guess I’ll have to fork over my own cash.

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