Although a natural part of life, getting older is a struggle for many people. When younger, people rarely think ahead about the effects of aging—and age often sneaks up faster than people think! One day, you’re at school. The next, you’re retired.
While some parts of aging are pretty well-known, like going grey or getting creaky bones, some aging aspects are rarely discussed. An online community discusses some of the most challenging parts of getting older that nobody wants to talk about.
1. Seeing Aging Parents
When you’re younger, parents feel invincible for many people, but with aging comes the realization that parents aren’t immortal. Watching parents become frailer can be heartbreaking, as well as reminding individuals of their own mortality.
According to one internet user, “It dawns on you that this once proud and brave couple who groomed you into the person you are today are now facing the end of their life cycle, the one constant unknown that we are all headed for at one time or another.”
2. Seeing Aging Children
Conversely, watching children age can be as challenging as seeing parents get older. It’s often bittersweet to realize that the helpless baby, babbling tot, and headstrong teen is grown and can make their own way in the world. Many older people find it distressing to need to rely more on their children, especially when feeling nostalgic about times gone by.
3. Missing Out
One online user mentions people being older and hearing about a new invention due to be released within the next decade or so, and realizing that they may never experience that development themselves.
They describe it as a “fear of not participating” rather than a fear of actually dying and explain, “And THAT is the first time you realize there is an end to your story.”
4. Having Nobody Left
As we age, so does everyone around us; family and friends get older, too, and somebody must be the last person remaining. As one commentator describes, “how to handle being the last of a group to survive” is a tricky part of aging that few people talk about.
Watching everyone around pass away and getting lonelier and more alone is a distressing aspect of aging that many people probably fear.
5. Facing the End
Although everyone knows they will die one day, edging closer to death stirs up a range of emotions … fear, sadness, regret, anger, guilt and other often unpleasant feelings.
Many older people describe feeling younger but looking in the mirror and no longer recognizing the person before them; instead of having a world of experiences ahead, time is drawing near. One forum user explains, “Only when we get older do we realize that opportunities are shrinking and that can be difficult to accept.”
6. Being Irrelevant
An internet user laments that with aging, “You become irrelevant and invisible in society”, describing how younger people aren’t interested in knowing what the world was like before they existed.
The commenter also mentions that it’s tough to have a self-image that isn’t in sync with reality where, instead of still being some cool young dude or dudette, you’re suddenly seen as outdated and somewhat obsolete in society.
7. Being Out of Date
One of the lighter mentions on this list is that some people find it challenging to stay current with continually changing trends. For example, knowing that music from their era is now considered old can be a tough pill to swallow, and realizing “new” movies were actually from ten-plus years ago can be rather jarring.
8. Losing Hope
A common feeling with aging is sadness over unfulfilled dreams related to career, travel, family, or otherwise. Instead of having years ahead to figure things out, individuals often accept that their reality is different from the plans and aspirations they once held.
The clock ticking down may lead to bitter regrets and, as one user describes it, a “Ghastly acceptance … [of] never achieving a single dream.”
9. Looking Back
It’s normal for people to look back over their lives as they get older, considering how they may have done things differently. One forum commentator says that “Age makes you realize that you wasted too much energy on things that did not matter”, describing the busy years of being hyper-focused on jobs, bills, children, etc, and not fully appreciating back then that time was gradually slipping by.
10. Accepting the Lasts
There is a last time for everything, from holding a child and stroking a pet to commuting to work and catching an airplane. Realizing later that you’ve done something for the last time can be a jolt.
One internet user advises younger people to live in the now, rather than wait for future happiness because the “lasts” can sneak up quickly.
11. Losing Financial Security
Although some Americans build up healthy savings and have robust retirement plans, many don’t. Worrying about finances when older is often more burdensome than when people still have age on their side. After all, finding a job and earning a living is much more complicated when capabilities are starting to fade.
12. Altering Sex Lives
Aging brings many physical and mental changes, some of which can affect a person’s sex drive and sexual performance. From menopause to erectile dysfunction, it’s often tough for people to experience sexual changes as they get older.
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Andrew Herrig is a finance expert and money nerd and the founder of Wealthy Nickel, where he writes about personal finance, side hustles, and entrepreneurship. As an avid real estate investor and owner of multiple businesses, he has a passion for helping others build wealth and shares his own family’s journey on his blog.
Andrew holds a Masters of Science in Economics from the University of Texas at Dallas and a Bachelors of Science in Electrical Engineering from Texas A&M University. He has worked as a financial analyst and accountant in many aspects of the financial world.
Andrew’s expert financial advice has been featured on CNBC, Entrepreneur, Fox News, GOBankingRates, MSN, and more.