Poll: Men, Are You Afraid of Growing Old?

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  1. Chris in NC says:

    It’s not so much a fear of getting cosmetically old (i.e. looks: gray hair, wrinkles, more body hair that I’ve already got, less hair on the head than I’ve got now). I think it’s a fear of three things:
    a) Not doing everything you set out to do by a certain point in time
    b) Getting physically old to a degree where one can no longer be self-sufficient
    c) Becoming mentally aged to an extent that forgetfulness becomes common-place and wits are not as sharp as they once were.

    • As a 33-year old dude, I’m also only afraid of your exhibits a-c, mostly points b & c, however. Strangely, I’m not terribly afraid of dying. It’s going to happen. It will probably be scary and painful. I’ve always wondered what maladies I’d rather die than contend with: ie my wiener falls off, awful dementia, a female president*… to the more unlikely; a world without steaks, no sunlight 9 months out of the year, a pitbull’s head for a left hand, etc.

      For the most part, I think that menfolk have a similar distaste for aging. Though the baby boomers and Gen Xers may prove me wrong, we tend to manifest it in different ways. Something to the effect of “we spend our youth attaining wealth and our wealth attaining youth.” Think trips to Ibiza, white g-strings and cherry red convertibles rather than face-lifts, Nancy Meyers films and pilates. Nature is somewhat less cruel to us, while we do undergo hormonal changes (the dreaded Low T), we don’t have something as devastating as menopause to look forward to. There is less delineation in a (western) man’s life thus aging is a fluid progression rather than a station to station race. Our first nocturnal emissions isn’t as singular as a first menses. Same with V-card punching, pregnancy, et cetera et cetera.

      *J/K.

  2. Sure they do. Look at Mitt Romney’s crazy weird black hair die job.

  3. Like of my friends stated “Stop complaining as it’s only going to get worse!” And, she’s right.
    aging is a state of mind, but the body doesn’t know that.

  4. Growing older means weight gain, mental faculty loss, long nose/ear hairs, wrinkles, and on a deeper level basic dismissal by society. We become grouchy old farts with nothing to offer.

    Not to mention erectile dysfunction, which is pretty much society’s definition of worthlessness as a man. That line is thrown to us almost as much as the “fatties are ugly” lines are thrown at women.

    I’m terrified of getting older.

  5. Given the medical history of men in my family on both sides I am far more afraid of not growing old. At 40 I’ve already outlived my father by one year. My first grey hair were welcomed and my slowly, but surely progressing baldness are of no concern. My prolapsed disc squeezing my sciatic nerve were a pain in the ass (or rather slightly below), but still better than the alternative. Will I succeed in guiding my cvhildren to adulthood and experience them as adults is a far more pressing concern for em than erectile dysfunction, nose/ear-hair (already trimming those) and so on.

  6. Christopher says:

    Considering the fact that my muscle/nerve- condition already imposes many of the same limitations and chains often associated with old age (I am a very unhealthy 22 year old man), and the fact that it’s only going to get a lot worse… I don’t have the time to worry about growing old. I’m simply to busy trying to survive, one day at a time.

  7. I can’t to grow old. Now being elderly is a different story. If I could stay around 55 I would love it.

  8. Growing old doesn’t bother me (but I’m only 45). FEELING old would bother me. As long as I remain curious about all the things I don’t know and haven’t done, as long as I have energy and strength (I am religious about working out and eating well), and as long as I feel good about what each day has to offer, I can handle gray hair, some wrinkles, and trifocals.

  9. Jamie Parsons says:

    I won’t mind at all being old. The only fear I have of old age is losing my wits. My grandfather is 85 and still a strong, working man. In fact I think if it turns out well, growing old with a family and looking after children and grandchildren sounds idyllic. Also the looks aren’t bad either. White hair, beards, even baldness can look awesome with old age.

  10. I am not crazy about the ideas of getting gray, wrinkling and such but I truly can’t stop it anymore than I can death itself. The one fear I have in growing older is loss of mental facilities. Alzheimer’s runs in my family and the thought or idea of having it happen to me terrifies me. I actually try not to concentrate on it too much. I watched my family go through that and how it effected everyone. I seriously wouldn’t want to place my family in the same position.

    Aaron

  11. I’m not afraid of getting old, I’m already getting old and in some eyes, I am old. But it’s cool being older. I have a mountain of experiences and continue to make new ones. What sucks about getting old is that your health goes down hill no matter how much you may work on good health. Body seems to do it’s own thing.

    Milestone in my aging was the birth of my grandson. Wow, I’m a grandpa (Upa) …. But with him, I found a revitalization in life. New experiences, new challenges …. It’s GREAT!

    The weird part is that my mind doesn’t fit my body. I still feel young, 30sh. Then I look in the mirror and wonder who the hell that guy is in the mirror? I don’t see myself retiring, ever. Can’t sit still long enough. Hell, I’m on face book! I have a bucket list …. I’m determined to do more of the things on it.

    Joan Rivers? Really? I think she would have looked a heck of a lot better if she hadn’t had so much done to her face. As an older guy, I don’t see her attractive at all.

    Yesterday, when I was stopped at a light, I heard the minivan next to me playing loud raga music. I inched up to see who was blasting the music. And there in the front seat was this old white lady with crazy white hair, had to have been at lest 60 years old, jamming to the music. Put a real smile on my face.

    I’m not scared of getting old, just the affects of getting old is all.

  12. Soullite says:

    Terrified. Unlike most here, I’m even willing to cop to the (mostly) vain reasons for it. I don’t want to get wrinkles. I don’t want to have to put in ever-increasing amounts of exercise to have a body half as nice as when I was 20. I’m not a very hairy person, and I’d like to keep it that way, too. I go to the dentist regularly, but I’m still terrified of losing my teeth.

    To be honest, I’m kinda short and plenty poor. Good looks are all I’ve got going for me.

    • Jamie Parsons says:

      But who is to say elderly men do not have good looks?

      The man in the picture at the top of this article doesn’t look bad or unhealthy. Most importantly, he looks happy.

    • @Soullite …oh yeah, the hair, I’m loaded with it. I was sitting next to a doctor on a flight and I asked him a question about hair. I’m losing my hair on my head but gaining a hell of a lot more on my back. So why is it that my body can produce hair on “other” places when I can’t keep it on my head? He shrugged his shoulders and pulled out a magazine to read.

  13. J. Hargis says:

    Honestly, growing old terrifies me. I really could care less about wrinkles, grey hair, saggy testicles, and aching joints. I’m not a vain person, and I know the people who love me could care less about what I look like. I’ve experienced more physical pain at 21 than most people could accumulate in ten lifetimes, so that doesn’t frighten me.

    The thing that terrifies me is mental decline. I lost my grandma on my dad’s side to Parkinson’s, and my grandpa on my mom’s side. I saw them fall from extremely bright individuals to bed ridden people who recognized no one, and couldn’t even produce a single sentence. THAT is what terrifies me.

  14. I am afraid of growing old for one reason only, getting trapped in the nursing home system. As marriage is currently a bad deal for men, I am not getting married, having kids, or starting a family. This means that there will be no one to look after me when I start losing my faculties and need a nursing home. Even if I did had kids it wouldn’t necessarily help. With the high probability of divorce, my (ex-)wife could easily turn my kids against me, putting me in the same position WRT nursing homes as if I had no kids, just in a more precarious position.

    • @ Bill – solid point about nursing homes. Scary stuff… We’ve all heard reports about the gross negligence I’d rather be dead than live in that system.

      • I know. I was talking to a friend of mine (male) whose dad is in a nursing home. My friend is an only child and so is his dad. My friend’s parents divorced a long time ago so the only person to check on my friend’s dad is my friend. My friend has had to fight at every step to get his dad decent treatment. My friend knows from his experiences that if he wasn’t around making a fuss that the nursing home wouldn’t care what happens to his dad. He has seen how the childless/familyless get treated in nursing homes, and it would seriously scare you.

  15. Yes, I am 41 and I worry about prostate cancer, Alzheimer’s, lack of mobility…

  16. To be honest, I don’t think I’ll live past my early 40′s. My father died at 42, and I have that in my head as the end of my lifespan. I realize that it seems crazy to think I’ll never make it past my early 40′s, but I have that as a reference point in my head because that is when he died. I’m in a rush in life, because I am worried I won’t squeeze in a whole life’s worth of accomplishments and experience before my early 40′s.

  17. NoFearOfTheReaper says:

    No, I’m not affraid of aging. The only thing that truly saddens me about growing old is knowing that someday either me or my wife will live without the other (for some unknown period of time).

    Ideally, if we both age in good health and remain self-sufficent, I’d like to expire on our own accord at the same time. If someone could promise me that ending I would welcome the Reaper with open arms when the time came.

  18. Yeah, I fear getting old, or should I say OLDER! I’m already 58, in constant back and joint pain, getting more’forgetfull’ every day. Hey Bill, you think having kids and a wife means they’ll be someone to take care of you when you’re old? Once you can’t provide, you become a ‘burden’, and as we all know, ‘burdens’ are shipped off to the nursing homes. Better to keep a .357 by your bed in case you need to ‘help things along’!

    • No, I don’t think that. That is my point. It’s a crapshoot at best, but if you’re male the odds are even worse because of the anti-male marriage/divorce system.

  19. Like seemingly most men here, I fear “aging” more than Death itself. I have a family history of high blood pressure on both sides, heart trouble (Dad’s side) 4 of my maternal aunts died of brain tumors , my father died of cancer at 58, I am a Type-II diabetic. Genetically speaking, I don’t have a snowball’s chance. Yet to me, it’s far more unsettling to think of the prospect of being unable to be mobile and independent, losing control of my mental faculties, having nothing more to contribute….in short, being “useless.” I dread the prospect of retirement; and my wife considering me “underfoot” all day, plus the burden, financial and emotional, of having to be cared for

  20. Like many who have posted here, I have a ton of health issues and the worse thing is sitting in my man cave (den) thinking about this stuff. All I can do is live a day at a time. The reality is that my wife will outlive me and I’ve done what I can to make sure she’s taken care of when I’m gone.

    There was a movie in the 80’s where Jack Weston (actor) was obsessed with his aging. I don’t want to be like him. I have to live a day at a time is all and make the best of it. It’s been interesting though, that so many men have been so open about their aging. Something that I don’t think a lot of people think men think about.

  21. My biggest fears about growing old are rooted in my family history. My father died at 52, my grandfather at 50. My uncles all have heart problems in their early 50′s. It is less about physical appearance for me than it is about fearing the rapid decline of my health. I also worry about things like alzheimers and cancer as those types of disease often affects your family and loved ones in ways that exposes them to witnessing your gradual wasting away. It makes me really sad to think that one day my kids and my wife may have to endure months or years of watching me suffer. That bothers me much more than worrying about whether I can get an erection or have saggy balls or wrinkly skin.

  22. For me personally, until about a year ago, I was expecting to be dead by 30. Primarily anticipating being a victim of police violence. But being 28 now and not quite as staunch an activist as I was, I am actually starting to take care of my body. On the other hand, looking at things like global warming and such, I still don’t expect to live past 45.

  23. Of course men are scared of growing old. Think about the men that DON’T have families, or even a significant other. Your body and mind are whither away, and without being into God seriously.. these things will make you feel like everything is at an end (instead of almost a new beginning – like it should.)

    The biggest fear though if beauty. You spend all of your teen / 20′s having fun, trying to get things accomplished, and when you hit your 30′s (and some 40′s) you start realizing that time is flying by, and that you’re now getting older. Usually takes some gray hair, changes in health, or wrinkles.

    NOW you stop and smell the roses, and wish you could go back to being in your early 20′s, where you can have all those “cushion” years before growing old, and smell the roses then, to make time stretch.

    • Jamie Parsons says:

      Well that’s exactly what I’m doing. I turn 21 in a few weeks and I am in absolutely no rush whatsoever. I realise how beautiful things can be. Spending time with friends and family is the most worthwhile thing in this world.

  24. David McCartney says:

    Right before age 30 I was diagnosed with acute leukemia and given no more than a 15% chance of living two years. My only child, a son, turned 4 while I was in the hospital. He’s now 38 and his son, who will turn 5 next week, is staying with Grandpa and Grandma tonight and the next two. I got more than I ever wanted out of life–everything after age 30 was gravy. I’m now 64 and have no complaints. I can do pretty much anything I want to do, although I have to rest more and everything takes longer, and I’m content with my spiritual life. So I don’t worry much about dying.

    • midwestmatt says:

      Excellent post and glad to hear you made it. I had a worrisome health issue a few years ago that could have been cancer and it scared me through and through. I only wish I had learned longer lasting lessons from my experience. Even though I’ve calmed down substantially and tried to make myself a better father and husband, I could be doing better. I hope I can make it to 64 and see my grand kids one day.

      I fear getting older but I know the only alternative is far worse than gray hair and bad knees.

  25. So, the notion that “nothing bothers” men when it comes to aging is dispelled. With age there seem that the fear of death and the fear of declining health and declining looks are pretty evenly distributed among the commenters here.

    So, how about women? I guess the stereotype is that women are most afraid of their looks when it comes to aging. Are the grey bunny slipper and other sagging really the most scary thing about getting older for women?

  26. “Dying is easy. Comedy is hard.”
    As a Black man in America, I grew up in the 1970′s in New York City. The area I lived in was affectionately called “Hell’s Kitchen.” Violence was high and most of the young men I grew up with are now dead, many of them before they reached the adulthood. I personally watched several gun down before my eyes, victims of drive-by violence, long before it became popular here on the West Coast.

    I expected to be dead by 18. When I turned 17, I left New York to go into the military, figuring if I was going to die anyway, I may as well be properly trained for the occasion. I had issues with authority figures, so the military was absolutely the worst thing I could do. I didn’t follow orders well, hell, I didn’t think there was anyone who should be given me orders, period. Let’s just say bootcamp was a challenging and emotionally developing experience.

    But by the end of it and my next birthday, I had a completely different view on living and dying. I lost the initial fatalism my upbringing had given to me, replaced with a renewed sense of choice, of control over my personal destiny. Nothing about my neighborhood had changed. Indeed, upon my return visit from boot, I strode into my home, feeling somehow larger, far less fearful, far less intimidated by both the crushing poverty and the lack of choices which permeated our lives there.

    I was only home for a few weeks before returning to the military, but that time there cemented in my mind a truth I carry until this day: No one can make your choices for you. They may steal the opportunities from where you live. They may crush the spirits of the people around you, who will in turn perpetuate their fears to their children. They may destroy all educational capabilities where you live. They may do all of these things and more. But once you realize this is happening. Leave. Find new avenues, find new ideas, find new people, find new environments. Harness your gifts, your abilities, if you don’t think you have any, you aren’t paying attention.

    The military, yes for all of its failings, changed me, gave me a new way to perceive me and how I have aged since then has been a direct result of my time there. I worked out for the rest of my life, due to the early influence of the military. It taught me my body was my best tool for changing the world, and my mind would only be as powerful as the body that housed it. Now as a much older adult, my physical fitness has been my most prized asset, because without health, a man has nothing.

    I stopped fearing aging a long time ago. I expected to be dead very young. I decided I didn’t want to die and found ways to change that. That was about making the choice to live, to live well, to live in the NOW; to live every moment as if it were the last. Planning is great, its necessary to have a life worth living, but if you fail to pay attention to the NOW, those moments of tiny joy, you overlook because you are afraid of what they (the ubiquitous they, the people who control society, the world you live in, your parents, your friends your family, your subconscious mind, literally any other outside of the core of you) the only person who suffers, who loses, is YOU. A life of fear, of loathing others of self-loathing is the result. Fear is what our nation is breeding and I want no part of it.

    I believe aging is a choice. How we age is also a choice. Take back your health, your life. Put away your addictions, your drinking, smoking, drugging, narcissism, hatreds, indeed any extreme of living, your poor choices, your engineered habits (those things you do, and don’t really know why, i.e. retail therapy) and LIVE.

    I am convinced I can live for as long as I choose to. And this does not have to be a painful thing, it can be a glorious thing, eating well, aging well, living well, loving well, all make getting older what it should be. An amazing event, something that allows you to turn from a selfish individual concerned for what the world can do for you, into an individual who finally realizes its about what you can bring to the world that matters.

  27. David McCartney says:

    To: MidwestMatt,
    I read a lot but don’t recommend many books. One I do like, though, is Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life, How to Finally, Really Grow Up by James Hollis,PhD. I’ve read a few of his books and they all pretty pretty much contain the same message, which I summarize as:
    We all have baggage; most of it we don’t even realize we carry;
    No one but yourself can make you happy; and
    It’s important to learn to be content in solitude.
    I’ve read this book a number of times, just to remind myself of its messages, and do recommend it.
    Good luck,
    Dave

  28. I haven’t read the rest of the thread, but I must admit; as a 30 year old man, very recently separated with a son, I am terrified of growing old. I am more scared of growing old alone than I am of death. Voted yes.

  29. I think for men it’s more about a loss of ability and strength than a loss of looks (though that definitely plays a part). As a runner and someone who stays active, I worry I might not be able to do five-minute miles or go to the gym regularly as I get older. And if I’m not fit, what will I become?

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