Every human lives with some fear or the other; however, as we age, we may find ourselves worrying more. The fears seem more threatening, with the likelihood of few of them coming true seeming to be more. These fears could be about finances, health, loneliness, death of close family and friends and even self, and so on. Some common fears of ageing and how we can overcome them are given below.
- Losing independence
One of the top fears of ageing is losing independence. The very thought that we may become physically (fractures or arthritis) or mentally incapable (Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s) of moving around on our own can be terrifying. Being independent gives us confidence, happiness, and freedom to do what we want when we want. When we lose that independence, we have to rely on others for doing anything. At times, it could even be basic daily functions. This puts great stress due to the guilty feeling of ‘troubling others’. We may also feel neglected if someone is unable to do what we want when we want. This is why as people age this fear eats them up badly. Some studies say that this fear of losing independence is more than that of death.
How to overcome – Discuss this with family members who may be telling you to take it easy and relax. Make them understand that doing things by yourself is important for your overall wellbeing. Take on routine chores at home that can keep you occupied, but won’t wear you out. Check out what changes can be made in the house to ensure you can move around confidently like installing grab bars, improved lighting, removing obstacles in walkways, and so on. However, take help where required, like changing a bulb. Prepare to deal with if it happens despite all care.
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- Poor health
Failing health can make people helpless, especially in old age. When we start falling sick often, it adds to the anxiety. We realise that constant or chronic issues can keep us from doing things like travel, attending functions, etc. Ultimately, this leads to worries about losing independence or putting our family in constant trouble to take care of us.
What to do – As we age, it is important to go for regular check-ups and monitor all possible health aspects. The doctors may proactively prescribe supplements to counter some natural ageing effects like weakening bones and muscles. Maintain regular eye and dental check-ups too. Keep yourself busy in ways that can occupy your mind to keep it away from such thoughts.
- Death of loved ones
We fear the death of the loved ones around us more than our death. For example, if we have to live to see the death of the younger ones in the family, then it is traumatic. When peers die, we start getting a double-pronged feeling of ‘am I next’ and also that feeling of being left alone when same-aged people go one by one. These fears are natural and cannot be helped.
How to overcome – Spirituality helps us overcome some of these traumatic fears. Prayers and meditation at such times can help us calm down. Acceptance of what has happened and will happen and our inability to conquer death helps overcome this fear. Discuss this with family members, and be open to drafting a will and preparing for the eventuality. Make new and young friends feel cheerful. Find hobbies to keep you busy.
- Running out of money
None of us knows how much is enough to last us a lifetime, especially with the rising medical expenses. The fear of what if I run out of money, what if I need daily assistance and expenses mount, etc. can be troublesome enough to lose sleep. However, we need to remember that ‘worry never changed anything’.
What you can do – If one has invested wisely and planned for retirement, it can help ease this worry. Discuss your finances openly with close family members and plan for the future. Use your finances wisely with a monitored budget. If you have a crunch, own a house, and your family members have an issue supporting you financially, then you can explore the reverse mortgage option available to seniors in India. To generate income, you could also consider subletting options with due consideration. Some monthly income schemes can be checked out if you have some money to spare. If you don’t own a house, you could consider shifting with family members and paying your own expenses to stay independent. If not, you could also consider shifting to a senior community or assisted living facility.
- Fear of loneliness
The fear of loneliness in old age can be quite debilitating. The thought of having no one to talk to, depend on, discuss something out, etc. can be daunting. An empty house can make us restless at all times, especially at night.
How to overcome – This fear needs to be addressed with proper planning as we age. It is not good to be old and alone. So, if there are such possibilities, then, early planning can help us bring about positive changes. Opting for community living once a spouse passes away, making oneself more socially active if possible, renting out rooms to PGs, etc. are options to overcome loneliness. Create a social calendar, build a network, keep yourself busy and keep it so for as long as you can.
Note – Fear can only be overcome with positive thoughts and actions. It has to come from within. Love yourself and others more, concentrate on staying healthy and positive and leave the rest to God and destiny.