Life expectancy continues to climb but still, many midlife women have concerns about ageing. To a certain point, getting older is seen as a negative thing for many of them.
Whether it’s because of our ageist society, which forces us to look at this stage of life as a time of winding down, the beauty industry that often makes us believe we must get rid of our wrinkles to find happiness or love, the DNA damage or force of gravity, many women over 50s are uncomfortable with the idea of growing older, while some of them feel very anxious about it. A feeling far more common than you think. So common that it even has its own acronym “FOGO” – Fear of Getting Old.
What scares women about getting older? Everything! From becoming invisible to getting seriously ill, living the rest of their life alone, losing money or their mind, not having children, and becoming marginalized. Ultimately, dying.
Some levels of FOGO are natural. But when ageing-related anxiety starts to seriously impact our well-being, we may suffer from Gerascophobia. It’s when people have very frequent thoughts about changes in their appearance due to ageing or increasingly lose control over their life as they get older.
Actually, there isn’t much you can do to improve your ageing anxiety until you finally recognize it’s a problem.
“Becoming a bag lady, getting Alzheimer’s, ending up alone. All of these concerns speak to a fear not of ageing but of living – said the late poet and activist Maya Angelou-. What is a fear of living? It’s being preeminently afraid of dying. The antidote is to take full responsibility for yourself—for the time you take up and the space you occupy. If you don’t know what you’re here to do, then just do some good. For a change, start by speaking to people rather than walking by them like they’re stones that don’t matter. As long as you’re breathing, it’s never too late to do some good.”
We can’t deny all of us experience some level of anxiety throughout the ageing process. However, according to research, our attitude towards ageing has a lot to do with how we enjoy ourselves as we age. In other words, our mindset can make us younger.
So, adopting an optimistic outlook toward ageing can be the first step to enjoying our mature years.
According to many therapists, the trick to successfully getting older is to find something we want to improve on, a new passion to cultivate, something that comes out of ourselves. Keep learning, staying informed and being engaged are ways to expand our horizons at any age.
Indeed, although the clock is ticking, we have earned our stripes. Dr Christiane Northrup, author of Goddesses Never Age, expressed it so beautifully: “Growing older is inevitable; ageing is optional.”
If we really want to grow old happily, we have to face those fears that are holding us back. Why don’t we invite them to tea and start a dialogue with our anxiety?