What you need to know:
- As years go by, the reality starts to set that the marriage may not last a lifetime or that one of you may depart before the other.
- For men that have spent their lives working, the prospect of retirement can be daunting.
Aging is often discussed as a sensitive matter for women. From young adulthood, they are regularly reminded of the biological clock. Men don't face many such reminders about aging. One would, therefore, not expect the fear of aging to be prevalent in men. However, studies show that despite all the reassurances about aging well, men fear aging, albeit for different reasons.
Impotence and losing virility
As men age, they may no longer be able to perform as well sexually as they could in their youth. This can lead to feelings of inadequacy and a loss of confidence. In addition, the decline in testosterone that accompanies aging can result in a loss of muscle mass and strength, further fuelling the fear of becoming physically weaker with age. Read more about andropause here.
Changes in appearance
It is not just women who fear losing their youthful attractiveness to age. Men too are afraid of the changes that occur in their appearance as old age sets in. The wrinkles, greying hair, loss of defined muscles, and a generally more worn-out look are not flattering. Among the changes in appearance that men fear the most, baldness ranks top. Polled together, the fear of baldness outranks even the fear of losing virility and impotence. A significant number of men are also worried about losing their teeth.
Retirement and irrelevance
For men that have spent their lives working, the prospect of retirement can be daunting. Once they retire, they may feel irrelevant in society. Even in the family setup, the children have grown up to be independent adults, who no longer need the guidance and oversight from the father figure.
This is compounded by the fact that men are generally not as good as women at keeping in touch with friends and family members. The lack of social interaction can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness, which can worsen the fear of aging.
Mental health deterioration
Men fear the deterioration of their mental faculties as they age. They worry about developing Alzheimer's disease and dementia, which can lead to a loss of independence. Men also fear the possibility that it may be their partner who ends up with dementia and related illnesses. This is one area where men and women share similar fears about aging.
Loss of their partner
One of the goals of getting a life partner is to grow old with them. But as years go by, the reality starts to set that the marriage may not last a lifetime or that one of you may depart before the other. For men, the fear of losing their partner whether through separation or death, is quite common. This is especially true if the man is significantly older than his partner. Other than companionship, most men depend on their partners for primary care. Losing the partner just as you enter old age could therefore mean living the sunset years without a caregiver.
The fear of death
The fear of death is perhaps the most fundamental of all fears. The closer one gets to the end of their life, the greater the fear of death becomes. They may see friends and family members die and be confronted with their own mortality. This can cause a great deal of anxiety and even depression in some men, reaffirming the reality of their own mortality. Whatever the reason, the fear of death is a very real one for men as they age.
Face up to the fear, overcome it
The best way to deal with the fear of aging is to face up to it. This means accepting that you are no longer as young as you used to be and that your body will go through changes. It is important to take care of your health so that you can age gracefully.