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    5 Reasons People Are Afraid of Getting Older (but Shouldn’t Be)

      |  Jan 02, 2024

    In a culture where youth is glorified, aging can feel like a burden instead of a blessing. And Americans, who are inundated with ads for anti-aging products and “okay boomer” jokes (among other anxiety-inducing images of old age) fear it especially. But life doesn’t end once you turn 30. For many people, getting older can be one of the most enjoyable experiences of their lives. 

    If that’s you, you might be wondering why people fear aging in the first place. Or maybe you’re terrified of aging yourself, and want to know why the sheer thought of turning 40 sends a shiver down your spine. By learning why you’re afraid of aging, you can take steps to conquer your fears and enjoy life at any age. 

    1. Feeling unprepared

    While there are plenty of decisions to make about our lives when we’re young, they don’t stop as we age. Many people feel unprepared for dealing with both practical and existential issues that arise later in life. People might be afraid of what will happen when they retire, or how they’ll deal with the death of a loved one. These questions, combined with other fears about aging, can make growing old feel daunting. 

    2. A youth centered culture

    Compared to many Eastern cultures, American and Western cultures are uniquely centered on the power of youth. From pop songs about being “young and wild” to political movements that center youth as a voice for change, America has a long history of honoring the unique perspective of young people. 

    Take for example the difference in America’s discourse around President Biden’s age and the reverence for the Dalai Lama in Eastern cultures. While American pundits offer up the President’s age as a reason why he shouldn’t seek a second term, the Dalai Lama’s age is seen as an indicator of wisdom. Subsequently, even people who aren’t public figures may fear that aging will make them appear “irrelevant” — that their opinions and ideas for society will matter less, or be taken less seriously. 

    3. Age-related illness

    As we age, our body becomes more susceptible to the effects of inflammation, a condition in which the body’s immune system attacks cells in order to fight off infection, illness, or toxins in the body. When inflammation becomes chronic, lasting for weeks, months, or even years, it can increase your risk for inflammatory diseases like heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimers. 

    This process is called inflammaging, and it’s caused by a reduction in glutathione (an inflammation fighting amino acid) and a weakening of the receptors in our immune system, among other factors. Consequently, many of us associate aging with getting these diseases, and suffering the consequences of them.

    4. Beauty standards

    As we age, our body naturally slows down its production of both estrogen and collagen, two components of what many people would identify as “youthful” looking skin. Estrogen, a key sex hormone in women, declines by 50% during menopause, when the reproductive cycle stops and the body no longer needs estrogen for facilitating the menstrual cycle. Collagen, which keeps skin firm and elastic, also reduces as we age. 

    Together, the result can be thinner skin, sagging, and more wrinkles and fine lines. In a culture that values beauty and makes it an intrinsic part of a person’s (especially a woman’s) worth, these changes can be frightening. And these fears begin way before menopause: in a recent poll, 28% of women under the age of 25 were anxious about the effects of getting older.

    5. Loss of independence

    Youth is an exciting time. As we grow and discover our place in the world, we generate new experiences at a near constant pace, meet new people, try new things, and enjoy a new sense of freedom as we navigate life on our own terms. All of life is new, new, new…and then you get old. 

    Many people fear that not only will life become boring or stagnant as they grow older, but that they’ll also lose the physical ability to enjoy life, with achy joints, sore muscles, and less mobility as their body ages. They might also fear cognitive issues, like memory loss or decreased mental sharpness. 

    Embrace aging with Modern Age

    Good news: while aging has long been associated with numerous downsides, the fruition of these fears is not inevitable. Getting older doesn’t have to be a scary experience. In fact, it can be an invigorating and exciting time. Aging means that we have more time to spend with friends and family, explore the world, enjoy our favorite foods, and use the wisdom we’ve accumulated when we were young to live life to the fullest. And with the right care and precautions, we can age into our best selves yet. 

    At Modern Age, we’re on a mission to make aging easier, with clinically created tests and treatments to support your health as you age. By identifying the root causes of age related issues, we’re looking to empower people with the tools they need to age fearlessly. Whether you need help fighting inflammation, supporting your skin, or strengthening your cognitive abilities, our team is here to help.

    Don’t know where to start? Take our quiz to get a sneak peek at potential causes of your aging related symptoms, like fatigue or cognitive dysfunction. From there, take a deep dive into your health with our Aging Wellness Assessment, a series of tests that provides a holistic look at your healthspan. Along with an assessment, you’ll work with a licensed clinician to create a customized plan for your unique health goals, so you can enjoy life to the fullest at any age.