Ageing anxiety the psychological and physical effects of getting older

Ageing anxiety - The psychological and physical effects of getting older

By Liz Lockhart - Uncovered's chief researcher and reviewer (and over 50)

Having just read the news item about Debbie Harry having concerns about getting older I got to thinking about my own aging process and how I feel about it.

I think that, overall, I have an exceptionally healthy attitude to growing older.  Although I don’t think I am ready to grow old and I doubt very much that I ever will!

Age is just a number

Age, to me, is truly just a number.  I have friends from 18 to 80 years old.  I enjoy the company of interesting people and age is not a factor in my choice of friends.  People seem to enjoy my personality rather than my appearance although I would like to think that I look pretty good and I will not add ‘for my age’ as that seems patronising.

Keep an open mind

I think that the joy of learning new things all the time helps, however small the fact that is learnt, it is great to gain more knowledge and realise that ‘you don’t know it all’.  I have a very open mind.  I also enjoy experiencing new things, going to new places and meeting new people.  I accept new challenges with open arms and will give most things a go.

Ideas for keeping an ‘open mind’

  • Mix with the youth! I don’t mean hang around down the skate park, but I enjoy with interest listening to the changes and challenges my children and their friends face.
  • Welcome new technology, OK so I don’t have an Ipad yet, or really understand what the heck Twitter is, but I love the computer and enjoy the opportunities of communication and learning it brings, this I think has helped me not become as out of touch as perhaps I would be without it.
  • Embrace change: ‘It wasn’t like that in my day!’, was an expression my mother used to say, I too see all to well the shifts and changes in society but try and face them with excitement not fear.
  • Brain Training; I love to do puzzles and quizzes, to learn and keep sharp. I like to think if I had a Nintendo what’s it, my brain age would be far less than my years!

Physical changes

For me the physical changes are the hardest ones to accept.  I love gardening but with each passing decade I find the physical exertion of digging, bending and weeding more and more challenging.  I rush out with my spade with the intention of digging the entire vegetable patch in one go like I did in my twenties and after achieving perhaps a quarter of my goal I stop for breath and to let my aching back have a rest. 

I hate to feel such physical limitations – my head is telling me I’m just a kid and my body is screaming at me to slow down and accept that I’m past it.  But usually my head comes out on top and I end up achieving what I started out to do albeit more slowly and usually followed with an early night!

My long-term partner is seven years younger than I am and yet I seem to do much more physical activity than he does.  I think that his attitude of being younger rubs off on me.  We enjoy many types of modern music, young friends and outdoor activities all of which help to keep you feeling young.

My top tips for keeping an active body

  • Enjoy an active hobby; now I am no longer interested in the slightest in going down the gym!  I’m sure most over 50’s will be with me in that, we get to an age where we realise there are far more enjoyable ways of keeping active.  My favourite is gardening, however dancing, cycling, walking are all great, I find if it is enjoyable I am much more likely to get more out of it than just trim thighs.
  • Sex; OK so most under 40’s will read that and cringe at the thought of over 50’s still at it, but let’s face it we still have the need and desire for sex and what better way to enjoy some physical activity?
  • The right diet; If I eat rubbish, I now feel it far more than I once did – and don’t get me started on alcohol, hangovers are now much worse!  The reverse is also true, I feel much fitter when I am eating well and am at a healthy weight for me.

Men lament their fading youth too

It would seem that men have just as many hang-ups about their fading youth as women.  More and more males are resorting to anti-wrinkle products and even cosmetic surgery.  I find bald or balding men very sexy but most men who are losing their hair lament its loss and become self-conscious about it.  Fortunately the old ‘comb-overs’ seem to be a thing of the past and have been replaced with shaved heads which can look so attractive.

Dust!  What dust?

One physical decline that I do lament is my eye-sight.  I try to be positive about most things and yet I find my diminishing sight hard to find an up-side to.  The fact that I don’t notice the dust on the telly so regularly could be seen as a plus and perhaps I don’t notice my fine lines as they decide to grace my face.  But I wish I could read without my specs.  It’s not vanity as I think that glasses can look good but they are cumbersome and uncomfortable and when I can’t find them I can’t see to search.

I asked some friend who are of a similar age to me what they saw as the plusses and minuses of getting older and found varying opinions and problems.  One said that they were fed up with having to go to the bathroom more often (for a wee).  I must admit that I look on with a very smug attitude when the adverts for incontinence products come on the adverts on the television.  Oh that’s one thing that hasn’t caught up with me yet but I spoke too soon.  The other morning I woke up bursting to go to the loo but as I paused to grab my dressing gown I coughed and wished I had not!  Oh no please don’t let this be a regular occurrence. 

Not by the hair on my chinny-chin-chin!

I was in my early forties when I first discovered a hair on my chin.  Not an ordinary hair but a big, thick, dark one.  I was horrified and reached straight for the tweezers.  The confounded thing keeps coming back and I find myself feeling for it on a daily basis so that I can pluck it before anyone notices.  I mentioned this to an old friend who said I should feel lucky as she had loads but it didn’t feel like much consolation.

I think that the hair on my head is probably almost white but I don’t know and never intend to find out.  I dye my hair on a regular basis and fully intend to continue to do so till the bitter end. 

Should I dress appropriately for my age?

Should I dress appropriately for my age?  Well what is that?  There was a time when grannies wore crimplene or twin-set and pearls and they had blue rinses on their hair.  I wear jeans and dye my hair red.  Do I look like mutton dressed as lamb?  I don’t know but one of the advantages of getting older is that I actually don’t care.  If I feel confident and happy in my clothes then what’s the problem?

Happy in my wrinkled skin

I actually feel quite happy in my slightly wrinkled skin.  There things that I would probably change.  I am not as ‘firm’ as I used to be but I believe that we all have insecurities at different stages in our lives and the good thing about being older is that we accept ourselves as we are more readily.


I think that the most important attribute we can have in older age is our physical and mental health.  If we continue to have that then we should feel truly blessed and enjoy every day of the rest of our lives.

For more information on anxiety please visit:

Anxiety - What Is Anxiety
Fight or Flight Response Explained
Anxiety - What Is Anxiety

Fight or Flight Response Explained
Anxiety Symptoms
Anxiety Disorders
Coping with Anxiety – Anxiety Factors
Generalised Anxiety Disorder GAD
Panic Attacks – Anxiety Attacks
No More Panic
Anxiety Treatment
Anxiety Management – Managing External Stressors
Anxiety Management – Managing our Response to Stress
Anxiety and Debt
Social Anxiety
Anxiety as a Result of Domestic Abuse
Work Related Stress
Anxiety and Substance Abuse
Further Reading

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