The fear of aging can be more common than many people can imagine, especially between the age limit of 40 and 50 years, when entering old age begins. Among the fears that people face are illnesses with a fatal end, loss of strength, and increasing dependence. Like childhood and youth, old age also brings new opportunities and challenges, experts say.
- In public, however, the image of our age is marked by fear of loneliness, helplessness, pain, and loss of competence.
- Fear contradicts the much-vaunted ideals of a whole, active, healthy, and self-determined life.
Questions that may arise
- But is age just loss and tension?
- Or are those correct who discover much of the good in your old age when you only get involved with your period?
- How do you experience your aging?
- How to deal with the contradiction between the demands of Fitness and the fear of loneliness and fragility?
- And how do you see old age as a young person?
- Do the experiences of aging in your own family, for example, scare you or give you courage?
Aging is not a significant threat and danger to our society – aging could be the great adventure of our future – socially and individually. Experts assure that many situations can arise and generate fear of entering the old age stage since this represents a new stage in life that includes specific characteristic changes, among which are:
- Her image of herself changed, and her new confidence in herself.
- Relaxation in family relationships, expression of solidarity throughout life between distant generations.
- The growing importance of couple relationships in old age, with new facets of intimacy, love, and sexuality in the last third of life.
- The growing importance of friendships and friendship-based social networks, especially for singles and older couples. The many approaches to the new ways of life of the elderly also take into account the problem of the need for long-term care.
- The changing importance of the profession in the life cycle and the importance of social commitment and volunteering in later years.
- And the new paths that older people travel in search of the meaning of life and real life.
Fear of old age, according to Fühner, by understanding aging “consistently” as part of the general process of social change, at least the reviewer can face the “personal attacks of age hysteria” in a more relaxed way.
For his part, Schenk describes the advantages and disadvantages of postmodern society. Older people also abandon their senior roles and have to demonstrate greater personal responsibility, but they can also determine their lifestyle apart from traditional images.
Recognizing Schenk’s “far-from-obvious” courage to address death directly and “encouraging” way, he realizes that the fear of aging disappears as one gets older, as does the fear of sleeping and falling in love at the same time. Darkness, among others.
Causes and symptoms
- It is estimated that more than a quarter of people over 65 have a mental illness.
- Depression is undoubtedly the first cause.
- Right behind or mixed in, one often encounters an anxiety disorder that is more or less pronounced.
- Anxiety symptoms are the same in youth or old age and do not differ significantly.
- However, the causes of anxiety disorder can be more diverse.
- Many older adults witnessed war as children, lost close relatives, and survived the bombing nights.
- These traumatic events are treated differently, and it is not uncommon for those affected to never talk about them until old age.
- However, these traumas are not forgotten by the psyche and arise in the last stage of life.
- Of course, this is just one example of many possible causes and factors.
- In addition, of course, there is poverty among the elderly, existential fears, fear of “being a burden,” and many other things that can also be quite complex.
- How to treat depression, even in old age, symptoms, and many more can be read here.
Depression is a big topic in old age.
- In older people, depression is often completely atypical at first.
- Not only fatigue, tiredness, apathy, or sadness belong to depression, but also many physical – somatic problems.
- And the list can be long, skin conditions, stomach and digestive problems, pain – these can all be signs of depression.
- It is not uncommon for years to pass before a diagnosis is made, a time which can also “wear people down” and further promote depression into hopelessness.
- Therefore, this possibility should always be taken into account.
- Depression in old age is not uncommon and can be treated well.
Fear of age
- This is also very common and can lead to anxiety and depression.
- The causes and reasons are different. Some are afraid of “physical decay,” poverty among the elderly is also a big problem or the fear of becoming a nursing case.
- Somewhere in a nursing home, “wasting away,” being alone, or being a burden to others.
- The fear of being treated and kept alive unnecessarily for a long time and against one’s will is also frequent, especially when serious diseases such as dementia, tumors or others are added.
- In any case, one should think once of a harmonious living will, with which one can document his wishes and his will already clearly on the apron – which gives security.
- The Federal Ministry of Health also offers a wealth of information, such as brochures and advice on “older people in their own homes,” care, etc.
- Take advantage of the offers because you can already regulate many things now, and the information avoids fear.
- Whether you are afraid of old age, you are depressed: The good news is that there is something you can do about it.
- Get professional help from the driver or a therapist.
- Above all, avoid “withdrawal” but cultivate social contacts. Visit groups of people who feel similar and talk about it. Read books on the subject.
- Anxiety or depression is not a weakness. It is a severe illness for which nothing can be done.
Anxiety disorders in the elderly
- Parallel to the fear of aging, there are also unique disorders and conditions when we are already entering old age that we will explain below, to broaden the topic a bit:
- There are various forms of anxiety characterized by feelings of panic and the physical symptoms that accompany them, such as sweating and tachycardia.
- One form of anxiety is panic attacks unrelated to specific situations.
- They occur suddenly and are accompanied by severe physical symptoms such as rapid heartbeat and shortness of breath.
- This creates even more fear of death in those affected.
- Phobias, moreover, are a form of fear associated with certain situations, objects, living beings, etc. (for example, the anxiety of certain animals such as snakes or spiders, fear of heights, fear of flying or fear of closed spaces, of sleeping, of falling in love).
- But there are also phobic fears in unusual situations, such as large crowds, squares, and foreign settings.
- In addition, there are patients with nonspecific and prolonged anxiety. It is not directed at specific objects, places, or people and is a permanent companion.
- Those affected are constantly exposed to tension, restlessness, excitability, tension, anxiety, and constant attention to their surroundings.
Frequency and course
- Various anxiety disorders occur with varying frequency in old age.
- For example, about seven percent of people over 65 are affected by a phobia, about the same amount as in younger years.
- Women have phobia twice as much as men.
- In general, panic disorders occur less frequently in older people than younger people and are particularly prevalent in women.
- The prognosis of most phobias is also relatively favorable in older people if appropriate treatment is carried out: In 60 to 80 percent, there is a significant improvement in symptoms.
- In the case of a panic disorder and generalized anxiety disorder, on the other hand, the prognosis is worse. Here, the symptoms often persist chronically but sometimes may be stronger or weaker.
Symptoms of anxiety and anxiety disorders are comparable to those of younger people.
Similar to depression, it is also true for anxiety that many older people do not spontaneously respond to or minimize symptoms.
- The causes of anxiety and anxiety disorders are also similar to those of younger people.
- On the one hand, genetic factors and, on the other, psychosocial factors, such as stressful living conditions or life events that trigger fear, can contribute to the development of anxiety.
- This type of stress is common in older people.
- For example, the diagnosis of a physical illness or the death of a close person can trigger an anxiety disorder.
On the other hand, pathological changes in the brain, certain physical illnesses, and medication can also contribute to the development of anxiety in older people – for example, heart or lung disease, stimulant antidepressants, discontinuation of sleeping pills, and sedatives can lead to stress.
- Older people often consider worries and fears ” normal,” so pronounced concerns that require treatment are often unrecognized.
- In addition, the symptoms are often not treated by those affected themselves.
- Therefore, when diagnosing an anxiety disorder, it is essential to ask explicitly about anxiety symptoms.
- The extent to which the symptoms affect daily life, social contacts, and physical health should also be recorded.
- In older people, in particular, solid physical arousal during anxiety or panic attacks can negatively affect cardiovascular functions.
- In addition, the diagnosis must take into account whether there are other mental disorders, particularly dementia.
Treatment with psychotropic medications
- Anxiety disorders are primarily treated with medications if the symptoms are severe.
- This is particularly true for severe panic disorders and severe generalized anxiety disorder.
- The goal of treatment is usually to reduce symptoms so that the affected person can initiate psychotherapy and cope with the demands of therapy.
- In the case of anxiety disorders, care must also be taken to ensure that older patients are more susceptible to the side effects of psychotropic medications.
- At the same time, the physical side effects of medications can often cause even greater anxiety symptoms in older patients than in younger patients.
- As with younger people, psychotherapy is also the first treatment option for older patients with anxiety.
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy has proven to be the most effective therapeutic method, which is also effective in older patients.
- In addition, relaxation methods can also be used. However, the effectiveness of psychoanalytic approaches is less well documented.
Hello, how are you? My name is Georgia Tarrant, and I am a clinical psychologist. In everyday life, professional obligations seem to predominate over our personal life. It's as if work takes up more and more of the time we'd love to devote to our love life, our family, or even a moment of leisure.