The fear of age, also known as gerascophobia, is a common phobia among most groups of people. To some extent, nearly everyone has some fear of growing older and eventually dying. This phobia is usually a culmination of fears related to being left alone, losing one’s youth and beauty, and eventually dying. Some may suffer from a debilitating form of the condition and become obsessed with appearing young. Others may even be fearful of elderly people, primarily because they are a physical reminder of what happens when the body ages.
Nearly every human beings in the modern world has some fear of age. This is especially true in industrialized nations where youth and beauty are highly coveted assets. The cosmetics and anti-aging industry earns billions annually from those looking to remain young looking. Dietary fads also emerge that claim to boost energy and reduce flab in order to give the body a more youthful glow. The amount of fear has depends on many factors, but most do not suffer from a fear so strong that is causes problems in everyday life.
There are some individuals whose fear of age is so strong that their personal and professional relationships suffer. They may become obsessed with looking young, or they may take dozens of vitamins or supplements everyday to prevent the aging process. This is often in correlation with another condition, such as body dysmorphic disorder or obsessive compulsive disorder, and the anti-aging issues come up as part of the underlying condition. These individuals may go to excessive lengths to avoid growing older.
Most people who have a fear of age may only become anxious, with some experiencing symptoms worse than others. They can include dizziness, shortness of breath, rapid heart rate, depression, and tremor. If symptoms become severe, medication or counseling are often helpful.
In a majority of cases, the fear of age is heavily linked with another underlying fear. This can include a fear of eventually being alone in a nursing home, fear of dying, or of of becoming sick and having their loved ones watch them suffer. These are natural fears when they occur only occasionally, since all human beings must face their own mortality. If they become disruptive, however, a mental health professional should be notified.
Very rarely, people may have a fear of elderly people in general. This is usually because the elderly remind them of the aging process and bring up underlying fears of growing old themselves. Other may find older individuals repulsive, often for the same reasons. If this inhibits the person’s ability to interact with family members who are advanced in age, therapy may be necessary to discovery the underlying cause.