Terrified of Growing Old?
Posted by Eileen Lenson on Feb 23, 2012 - 4:26:50 PM
LOS ANGELES—It is Oscars time again! As exciting as it is to watch the young, beautiful movie stars on television, it may serve as a painful reminder that our own youth is in our rear view mirror.
Loss of sexual drive, insomnia, decreased cognitive function, weakness, wrinkles, money woes, dependency on others – all too often these are the associations we have with old age. We spend a lifetime striving for independence in all spheres of our lives; physical, social, financial, and emotional, and are terrified that old age will steal that independence away.
Photo by Mike Dalsing
For many, the fear of aging will be worse than the actual aging process. This fear can result in energy being put into denying one’s aging with women erasing all signs of facial wrinkles, men chasing women young enough to be their daughters, and both genders engaging in activities that are better suited for younger bodies.
If we learn the facts, aging won’t be so scary.
Physical health: Lifestyle choices we make today can influence our physical well being in old age. According to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics Health Care, “many of our changes are caused not by the aging process but by disease, environment, and lifestyle. The good news is those physical changes occurring from these factors can be prevented or slowed down by taking action now.” Exercise can keep muscles strong and muscles flexible. Sunscreen can prevent some cancers
Emotional health: self-esteem associated with work, loss of relationships with colleagues,
Cognitive abilities: The brain is a ‘use it or lose it’ organ. Don’t let it atrophy – learn, learn, learn. Challenge your intellect much as you would your body in a physical activity.
Work: You may be retired, and not going to the office any more. For many, the loss of contact with colleagues results in social isolation, intellectual starvation and a loss of purpose in life. Take your work skills and become a mentor or consultant, or use this opportunity to start a new work path.
Recreation: If you lose an activity due to a physical limitation, replace it with another. Choosing to engage in no activity will place you at greater risk for depression and dementia.
Social: Enhance your life by connecting with others, be it family, friends or community. People who get involved with others and share their knowledge and experiences with others have an improved sense of well being.
Sex: Sex provides a way to enjoy emotional intimacy, increase circulation, and reduce anxiety. Our bodies have changed over the past decades, but along with those changes comes increased wisdom and maturity. Focusing on giving and taking in the cherished relationship will help reduce your self-consciousness.
We have a considerable amount of control over the success of our aging process. By focusing on receiving fulfillment in productive activities and discovering new interests, we will maintain meaning in our lives, which will foster happiness and a healthy self esteem in old age.
Eileen Lenson, MSW, ACSW, Board Certified Coach, is in private practice , offering office hours as well as telephone coaching sessions. She welcomes your feedback at Eileen@LensonLifeCoaching.com. For more information, visit www.LensonLifeCoaching.com.