Posted on Jan 04, 2024, 3 p.m.
Aging is an inevitable and sometimes daunting part of life, but according to research, people seem to fear aging less with each year they grow older.
The older people get, the less they fear aging. According to a recent double opt-in survey conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Forbs Health of 2,000 American adults, young adults are more afraid of aging than older adults. However, it is not just the idea of getting older that is frightening; adults are more concerned with the possibility of experiencing health complications.
Overall, 53% of the respondents reported that they don’t worry much about aging. But this number changed significantly when the researchers broke the responses down by age to look at the youngest adults. Many people can feel unsure or intimidated about the aging process, and this is especially true for younger people who may think that their future won’t be as invigorating or enjoyable.
The analysis revealed that the fear of aging declines across older generations, but the same cannot be said for younger generations. 56% of young adults between the ages of 18-24 years old are afraid of getting old, compared to only 21% of older adults aged 77 or older.
The respondents had concerns about getting older regarding weaker immune systems, reduced muscle mass, less energy, and changes in cognition. 45% of the respondents were concerned about the possibility of mobility complications due to arthritis and bone/joint health decline. 44% were concerned about developing a form of cancer, and 44% were concerned with cognitive decline, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease.
The scariest aspect of aging was declining health, with 63% of the respondents expressing concern, and 47% were most concerned about losing the ability to live independently as they age. 41% fear completely losing their vision, 34% are scared of not being able to walk without assistance, 27% are worried about developing heart diseases, 24% are concerned about deteriorating eyesight, 24% are concerned with the loss of muscles/strength, 19% are worried about weight gain, 18% afraid of developing neurological disorders, 13% are scared of hearing loss.
The possible loss of independence is a serious concern with 27% are worried about not being able to drive, 22% are worried about losing the ability to engage in their favorite physical activities, 19% are concerned about not being able to play with children/grandchildren, 16% are concerned with not being able to travel as they age, and only 9% are not worried about any of the concerns expressed by others in this poll.
Additionally, adults are also worried about other things than health-related fears, 52% of the respondents are afraid of losing their loved ones, 38% are afraid of experiencing financial hardship in their older years, 34% are afraid of losing their independence, 30% are afraid of becoming alone/isolated and lonely, 20% are afraid that they will become increasingly bored or lack purpose, and 13% are afraid of having to move to an assisted living center.
Taking a closer look at the data the researchers found that anxiety about aging varied based on the age/generation of the respondent. For example, Gen Z American adults were more concerned with cognitive decline than any other issue, while Millennial American adults were more concerned with cancer.
Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, and Gen Z adults were all afraid of chances in brain health, but the researchers noted a sharp increase according to age: among those between the ages of 66-76 years old 55% reported cognitive decline as their biggest concerts, while among those aged 77 years and older 80% reported cognitive decline was at the top of their list of concerns.
Overall, most respondents shared concern about the possibility of declining brain health, and most of them reported that they are actively taking preventative steps to help maintain their health in order to protect their future well-being and independence. 49% of the respondents reported exercising their brain fitness by doing mind-stimulating brain games such as Sudoku, jigsaw, and crossword puzzles.
Along with challenging their mind, other common healthful activities include 47% report being socially engaged and nurturing close bonds with friends and loved ones. 46% report being focused on maintaining a nutritious diet and 42% are taking supplements if needed, 44% report exercising regularly including cardio and strength training. 42% prioritize getting enough sleep and 36% say that they are keeping up to date with screenings and health checkups. 20% report engaging in flexibility/balance-promoting activities such as yoga. However, 8% of the respondents, although they reported concerns, admitted that they are not taking any preventative actions to safeguard their future health and well-being.
It appears as if financial concerns are closely linked to all of this. 74% feel that they will be able to access medical care as they age, but paying for it is a different story. Even though 87% of the respondents had health insurance, and 97% of those over the age of 65 had Medicare, most of the respondents were still very concerned with the possibility of future healthcare expenses should they develop serious issues that require frequent hospital visits.
Concerns regarding healthcare is a longstanding issue in America. Healthcare itself isn’t always easily available, and even when it is accessible the resources to pay for it may not be available. This is part of the reason why many people try to minimize their risk of needing medical assistance with alternative and preventative approaches that are within their means that can help them now as well as down the line to enjoy overall health for longer. The results from this research help to highlight people’s feelings about aging as well as the implications that it has on their outlook for the future.
As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before changing your wellness routine. This article is not intended to provide a medical diagnosis, recommendation, treatment, or endorsement. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
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