Many of us as we age are diagnosed as suffering from a disease called ‘Gerascophobia”; an abnormal and persistent fear of growing old; an unwillingness to accept the inevitability of the ageing process. Sufferers of this fear-based malady (even though they may be in good health physically, economically and otherwise), experience undue anxiety about ageing. They may worry about the loss of their looks, independence, and inactivity after retirement, impaired mobility, and for some, even the onset of dementia. I have termed this allergy Immortality Syndrome, and whereas many allergies are activated by pollen or specific food variants, I.S. is normally triggered by victims discovering that they have grown their first grey hair, or by the sight of wheelchairs and walkers, when visiting retirement facilities.
A Cure for Immortality Syndrome?
I write books in a genre focused on adaptive ageing, and became so frustrated by the avoidance of seniors afflicted by I.S. that, even though I was fully aware that life itself was the ultimate medication (dispensed free of charge by the pharmacy in the sky), I decided to develop a more readily available palliative cure. I filled a bottle with black coffee and labelled it… A cure for Immortality Syndrome! On encountering an elderly person, whose response to my books would be “I am not there yet!” … or “I’ll read it in a few years time!” I would hand them a bottle saying … “Then you need a bottle of this.” My reaction did little to promote sales but had a wonderfully cathartic effect on my allergic reaction to Immortality Syndrome itself.
The disease often results in procrastination, reluctance on the part of some elderly people to move into appropriate retirement accommodation. They invariably say…”We will move sometime in the future” – little realising that perhaps the future is now?
I am also amazed at how seriously people view death. Most religions believe that we go to a better place; that the streets of Heaven are lined with gold- and that membership to Heavenly golf clubs is free; that the greens all slope to the centre and all the trees in the rough are festooned with Mars Bars – and yet when someone is dying we enter their room clad in a sombre black suit and tie, (which smells of Moth-balls and hasn’t seen the light of day since our marriage ceremony!), We then whisper sad meaningless words of mourning. Why? If our beliefs in an after-life are correct… why don’t we simply bounce in clad in denim and a T-shirt, clutching a bottle of Brandy and offering them a drink, encourage them by saying… “Good on you mate! Congrats – You’re on your way!”
I myself have fortunately never been concerned about either the ageing process or even dying? Why would I be? I have certainly found the second half of my life to be far more fulfilling and enjoyable than the first. In our formative years many of us are dominated by ego; but once we have matured (and I must reluctantly concede that men do take a little longer than women!), and are able to let our guards down, life can be remarkably enjoyable. So get over your aversion to ageing; grasp life by the scruff of the neck and start living it to the fill!