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  • Annmarie Throckmorton, M.A.

Gerontophobia, Gerascophobia, & Death Anxiety

I wondered, is there a word for the fear of aging? There should be as I am becoming quite familiar with that fear. And I am not the first, nor the last, I am just joining the human herd that sooner or later runs over the fearsome cliff of the great divide between life and death.

Well, it turns out that there is a word for the fear of aging, gerontophobia.

"What phobia is the fear of getting old? Gerontophobia is the fear of old people or growing old. People with this fear tend to worry about growing old because they fear being left alone with no one to take of or comfort them in their old age. The origin of the word ger is Greek (meaning old age) and phobia is Greek (meaning fear).

"As with any phobia, the symptoms vary by person depending on their level of fear. The symptoms typically include extreme anxiety, dread and anything associated with panic such as shortness of breath, rapid breathing, irregular heartbeat, sweating, excessive sweating, nausea, dry mouth, nausea, inability to articulate words or sentences, dry mouth and shaking."


I do not think much of the above online definition, it reads like it was written by a high schooler. For example, there are far more serious reasons to fear aging, such as the consequences of aging which are ugliness, pain, stroke, heart attack, death, or all of them if one is very unlucky. Frankly, I would not call it a phobia, because fear of aging is a rational response to an cruel trick that nature plays on every bit of life on the planet.

Wikipedia's definition hits the spot.

"Gerontophobia is the fear of age-related self-degeneration (similar to Gerascophobia ), or a hatred or fear of the elderly due to memento mori . The term comes from the Greek γέρων – gerōn , "old man" [1] and φόβος – phobos , "fear"."


And then there is gerascophobia which is an abnormal or incessant fear of growing older or ageing (senescence); and Death Anxiety which is fairly self-explanatory. Okay, three words for the fear of "old" are more than enough, and I bet there are more if I dug around on the internet, but not today. Sheesh. I am going to go make brunch. Then I may stop by the YMCA, even if it is in an observational capacity.

Instead, as fate would have it, shortly after I got my gym bag packed, I was ill from a bad beef patty, and sitting on the commode holding a barf bowl.

But the next day I did swim at the YMCA, the first of what I hope are many steps to better health.

Caption: Nosocomephobia is the fear of hospitals.

by Annmarie Throckmorton 2019

(President Richard Nixon remarked that “If I go to a hospital,

I’m fairly sure I won’t come out of it alive”.)

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