Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Is 60's the New 40"

The simple answer is no. However, the more important question is why do we make the statement. Is it a fear of ageing? Our culture is obsessed with youth, and the thought of being old (defined as over 62 in Europe and being over 65 in North America) is not comforting to many. Why do we fear about ageing? Here are five of the most common fears of women and men.  Notice the differences and similarities. 

Impotence The prospect of impotence was scarier than cancer or death to readers of a men's magazine in a 2001 poll. Perhaps there is a good medical reason for this: Otherwise healthy men who have erectile problems have been shown to have abnormal coronary tissue, higher incidence of high blood pressure, high blood fat, and other markers of heart disease.

Weakness Feeling weaker was named one of the most dreaded parts of aging for nearly 9 in 10 people surveyed earlier this year by the American Geriatrics Society Foundation for Health in Aging along with Abbott Labs.

Retirement/irrelevance The prospect of retiring fires enormous anxiety because it, too, begs the question, "If I'm not my career, what am I?" In the U.S., reaching retirement age tends to coincide with having your opinion solicited less and becoming”invisible," she adds. Net result: a huge ego blow.

Losing wheels (and independence) The prospect of having to give all that up -- which many men first think about when they see their own fathers turning in the keys for safety's sake -- is scary indeed. Driving is also emblematic of another fear: Becoming dependent on others to meet basic needs. 

Losing your mind (or your wife losing hers) Perhaps recent headlines are scaring more men into the fear of Alzheimer's: Men are more likely than women to have mild cognitive impairment (MCI) -- sometimes called "pre-Alzheimer's" -- and get it earlier, according to a Mayo Clinic study in the September 2010 journal Neurology. Nearly one in five men ages 70 to 85 have the condition, which falls between normal forgetfulness and early dementia Know that only about 15 percent of cases of mild cognitive impairment evolve into dementia each year. (If you are married, you may be protected; MCI is highest in men who were never wed.) No sure fire ways to prevent Alzheimer's have been found, but a heart-healthy lifestyle may lower the risk.

Losing Attractiveness/Becoming  "Invisible"  Fear about appearance persists right into the 70s and 80s 

Being Left Alone A spouse's death figures high among women's fears, as does seeing their children dying first or losing old friends when they relocate for retirement, move to be closer to family, or become sick or die.

Becoming a Bag Lady Bernie Madoff, the real estate collapse, and the Great Recession 2.0 have only fueled a classic female fear of aging: financial destitution. Today's younger women may also carry mental images of their mothers' and grandmothers' financial illiteracy.

Cancer  Maybe it's those ubiquitous pink ribbons. Cancer, particularly breast cancer, tops the health concerns women fear most, according to a 2005 study by the Society for Women's Health Research.

Being Dependent on Others both men and women alike dread "becoming a burden, and for many women, who have traditionally been the caregivers, the prospect of a role reversal is especially uncomfortable.


  1. Spot on. But what can we do to assuage such worries other than pretend we are only 40 and they only happen to old people?

    1. I don't think we need to pretend to be 40, but we can live our lives as if we were 40. By the way, I define old as someone is is at least 15 years older than me, so by this definition, I will never be old. :-)