The aging process is often accepted with a combination of humorous resignation—it’s not a fun process, but it definitely beats the alternative, right? The truth of this statement varies from person to person, largely depending on how kind the years have been to an individual’s mental and physical health.
Indeed, “health issues” and “serious illness” top the list of concerns of the over 50-set, according to a recent survey by U.K.-based online social care marketplace firm, cloudBuy. Coming in at a close third was “My mind failing me,” a common fear inspired by the stigma of Alzheimer’s disease.
The survey, which was conducted on a group of more than 1,000 British men and women age 50 and over, led to some other interesting insights:
Men and women have different fears about aging: More women than men dreaded the following; a failing mind (66 percent versus 51 percent), losing their independence (58 percent versus 43 percent) and being lonely (39 percent versus 27 percent).
When do people start to worry about aging? Concerns about aging seemed to start in the late 40s or early 50s for most individuals surveyed, but some were plagued by worries even before their 40th birthday.
Worry doesn‘t always translate to planning: Despite the fact that nearly all of those surveyed (95 percent) said they didn’t want to enter a nursing home, 70 percent admitted to having no strategies in place to help them deal with the challenges of advancing age.
Here’s a list of the top 15 concerns about aging that were uncovered in the survey:
- Health issues
- Serious illness
- My mind failing me
- Becoming forgetful
- Losing my independence
- Losing my sight
- Being a burden to others
- My body failing me, but my mind being completely fit
- Having to go into a nursing/care home
- My partner getting seriously ill
- My partner dying before me
- Being lonely
- Having to move out of my home
The importance of planning for future needs
Experts tout the advantages of planning in advance for old age and retirement, but it is often those individuals who have first-hand experience as family caregivers of an elderly loved one who are most motivated to prepare for their future.
Here are some sentiments expressed by caregivers who say they will take steps to avoid placing undue stress on their younger family members:
“I plan to research facilities and move to one. What my mother has done to me has to stop. And it will stop with me. It’s unfair to ask anyone to take on the elderly.”
“I don’t want my children to go through what I have had to undertake. I’ve already told them there is to be no guilt whatsoever in any decisions they have to make regarding my elderly years. In no way do I ever want to be a burden; it is not my style and I certainly don’t want it to be my legacy. I had children because I longed to be a mother and take care of them. That in NO WAY is the same thing as taking care of an elderly parent, especially a demanding one. I didn’t have children for them to take care of me.”
“I will make my will, POA, and take care of all bills including burial, and hopefully leave a bit of money for each of my nieces and nephews.”
“I have learned that sometimes you have to ignore the negative voices around you that claim you are doomed to a life of pain and/or a loss of independence due to your circumstances. Sometimes, not all the time, the answer is still waiting to be found if we just keep open, keep listening, and refuse to give up on ourselves. Aging may be a part of life, but how we do so is largely up to us.”
Are you concerned about getting older? How will you plan for the future to avoid the challenges faced by many older adults and their families?
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By Anne-Marie Botek, AgingCare.com Editor