A new word to try out on your friends and colleagues – gerontologiphobia (1).  It refers to the fear of getting older, or a dislike for becoming older.  Our society does not make it easy to age.  Older people talk about becoming invisible as they age.  They are overlooked, undervalued and even discriminated against.  It’s ironic considering the rapid aging of Canada and many other western countries.

Although many feel that it’s our youth obsessed culture that drives this fear I believe that it’s our drive to remain autonomous that is really behind this fear.  Our concern with physical deterioration and the risk of becoming dependent on others is not handled well in our society that emphasizes individualism.  Families cannot be expected to bear the burden of caring for their aging relatives without the ‘village’ supporting them.  Individuals cannot be expected to maintain the same level of independence as they moving into their 80th, 90th or even their 100th year.

Headlines celebrate that humans can live longer – the headlines forget that we are not prepared for the increasing size of our aging population.

(1)  Susan Jacoby’s (2011) book – Never Say Die