The psychology of growing old

If you are reading this, chances are you’re either in your fifties or older. Or you have someone close to you who is. As such, it’s important for us to understand the psychology of ageing and how different problems can arise during this time. This article will cover some of those issues and advise on what to do if they occur.


Changing bodies

As you grow older, your body will inevitably change. Some of these changes are unavoidable, but for the most part, you can take steps to prevent them from happening or at least delay their onset. Here's a list of some of the common physical changes that occur as people age:

The skin becomes less elastic and loses its ability to regenerate new cells quickly. This means it takes longer for cuts and bruises to heal, which can lead to more infections if proper care isn't taken.

Bones become weaker as they lose bone density over time; this makes fractures more likely if someone falls or is involved in an accident.

The eyes grow less flexible with age, causing them to develop problems such as cataracts (clouding of the lens) or macular degeneration (a loss of vision). It's also more difficult for elderly people with these conditions because they're so sensitive compared to younger people who have not been exposed long enough for symptoms like blurred vision or double-visioning problems due to ageing effects like eye strain not being prevalent yet!

Changing lifestyles

In later life, you may find yourself living on your own. You might be forced to make some drastic changes in your lifestyle. For example, you may have to stop driving and rely on public transport instead. You may also need to move into a smaller home or apartment because you can no longer manage the maintenance of a large house or garden.

However, there are many ways that you can continue leading an active lifestyle in later life: If you don’t drive anymore, consider taking up activities such as cycling or walking instead. These will help keep your mind sharp and reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and other conditions associated with ageing.

Join a gym for some exercise classes such as yoga or Pilates; these types of exercises focus on stretching rather than strength building which can protect against muscle wastage over time.

Changing social roles

Social roles are the ways in which we interact with others, and these roles are usually determined by age, gender and social class. For example, an older woman may be expected to act in a particular way due to her age and gender (e.g. graciously receiving guests at home). When people experience a change in their social role, they can find it difficult to adjust; this may cause them stress or anxiety because they feel that their identity has been changed irreversibly.


Planning for retirement is one of the most important things you can do. If you don’t plan, you will likely feel disappointed with your retirement years. The psychology of retirement is an interesting topic that can affect how people view their futures and what they want out of life.

We have all heard about the importance of planning for retirement, but there are so many different aspects to it. Retirement planning includes saving money, getting insurance coverage and generally preparing yourself for when you are no longer working full-time.

The first step in this process is learning how much money you need to save each month from being able to afford to live on a fixed income (your pension). You will also want to make sure that your home is paid off if possible because it can be difficult finding affordable housing after retiring from work when owning a house outright isn’t an option anymore due to lack of funds available after paying off any debt left over after paying down mortgages/rents etc.

This can be especially true if there aren't any family members willing or able to financially support themselves without asking other people, spending too much time caring for their loved ones instead!

The second thing we must consider when making plans for our future lives concerns itself with primarily psychological aspects rather than financial ones. This means that even though we know exactly how much money we need in order to maintain ourselves comfortably through retirement years, we still might not know precisely what kind of activities might be suitable given particular circumstances at specific times throughout one's life cycle, such as age limitations imposed by law enforcement agencies or health problems affecting abilities related specifically towards mobility issues etcetera...

Personal identity

Self-esteem is an essential part of your identity. It can be hard to maintain our self-esteem when facing the inevitable changes that come with growing older, but it is possible! By keeping in mind the following factors, you can keep your self-esteem high:

  • being able to cope with change
  • having a positive outlook on life
  • having a sense of purpose in life (i.e. knowing why it's important for you to live)

A sense of belonging can also be an essential aspect of your identity because it contributes significantly to how you feel about yourself and the others around you. If someone has a strong sense of belonging, they will likely have fewer symptoms of depression than someone who doesn't have such feelings.

Health and illness

Health problems can and do arise at any age. The older you get, the more likely you will develop health issues. However, there are some common diseases which affect the elderly:

Arthritis affects the joints, making it challenging to move around and perform daily tasks such as getting dressed or putting on make-up.

Heart disease (also known as cardiovascular disease) affects your heart’s ability to pump blood around your body – not enough oxygen reaches your organs and muscles. This can result in chest pain (angina) or even a heart attack if left untreated for too long.

Other common health problems include diabetes; high blood pressure; kidney disease; bowel cancer; bladder cancer; osteoporosis; strokes, and dementia.

Death and dying

It is difficult to talk about death and dying because it's not something we do very often. We don't know what to say or how to act. It is perhaps one of the most taboo topics in society, yet it happens to everyone.

When faced with someone who may be dying, it can be helpful to ask them if there are any questions or worries they have about their death. This can help them feel more supported during this time. It is also important to let them know that you understand what they're going through by saying something like: "I know how hard this must be for you."

It's not uncommon for people who are dying to feel scared, alone or angry towards those around them (especially loved ones). It's important not only as a caregiver but also as a friend/family member/loved one (or even stranger). Being present while they go through this process will mean so much more than words ever could!

It can be frustrating at times, ageing, but it is a rewarding time. There are good things about ageing. You don't have to worry about paying bills and can do whatever you like. You might be able to afford a lovely house or car, and you may be able to pay for your children's education. However, there are also some negative aspects of ageing too: as people get older, they often feel less confident than they did in their twenties or thirties, which can make them more depressed.

Also, people who have worked all their lives may find it difficult not to have anything to do when they retire; this lack of purpose can lead to depression as well. The best way around these problems is by staying active and healthy; eating well will help keep your mind sharp and keep your body fit so that you can enjoy things without getting tired easily!


It’s important to remember that everyone is different and will experience the ageing process differently. However, many of these issues can be dealt with if we are aware of them in advance and plan accordingly. For example, retirement planning helps with financial stability and psychological well-being as you adjust your social roles.

If you are struggling with ageing, psychotherapy can help you face these fears and change your behaviour and attitude to enjoy ageing and no longer fear it.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Epsom, Surrey, KT17
Written by Karina Godwin
Epsom, Surrey, KT17
I am an Integrative Psychotherapist.

Being an integrative psychotherapist means I will tailor our sessions to your needs and draw from a range of approaches to work creatively with you and act as a catalyst for new perspectives to emerge.

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