Why Some People Have Trouble Coping With Aging

While science looks for more strategies to slow down aging, there are already some in existence that can be really useful. However, in this article, we talk about people who have difficulty when it comes to dealing with aging.
Why Some People Have Trouble Coping With Aging
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 21 December, 2022

Some people age badly. However, we don’t mean those who reach the ages of 60 or 70 with more wrinkles and deteriorating health. We’re talking about those who arrive in the autumn of their life feeling irritable, resentful, and hopeless.

We know it’s not always easy to accept the passage of time and it’s often hard to recognize that wrinkled face in the mirror. Nevertheless, it’s worrying to see how some of our close ones show an increasingly apathetic and even hostile character as they get older. On the other hand, it’s often said that personality doesn’t change with age, and that someone who was taciturn and rude in their youth will be even more so when their hair is gray.

While it’s true that old age isn’t always filled with happiness and luminosity, it’s sad to witness how some people become increasingly irritable. Is there an explanation? Even more importantly, is it possible to reach old age in a positive state of mind?

Many times, behind the bad mood of an elderly person, lies a psychological disorder such as depression.

Daughter talking to her elderly mother about people who age poorly
Healthy aging also includes taking care of emotions and moods.

Reasons why some people have trouble coping with aging

Studies on aging are booming. This is no accident. Indeed, research conducted by Duke University (USA) claims that one of the greatest challenges facing society is progressive aging. In fact, by 2050, it’s estimated that one in six people in the world will be over the age of 65.

Therefore, one of the objectives of science is to slow down aging in order for people to continue to be productive when they’re older. It sounds like science fiction, but it’s something that’s been worked on for years. Medicine and even bioengineering are focusing on tricking our DNA so that we’ll be able to remain young, regardless of our biological age.

Nowadays, we hope to reach the age of 60 in good physical health. However, we tend to neglect the aspect of mental health. Nevertheless, nothing can be better than feeling good psychologically and emotionally at every stage of life, including the one in which the candles barely fit on the birthday cake.

Aging mentally well is an art, a blessing to which we all aspire. So, why do some people have trouble coping with aging? Let’s take a look.

People can change over the years. Factors such as traumatic events, poor family relationships, and loneliness can mean they develop a more hermetic and complex character.

1. The weight of loneliness

As the years go by, it’s common to experience certain losses. Indeed, loneliness is currently a real epidemic. Losing spouses, living isolated lives, and receiving fewer and fewer visits from relatives are elements that have a great impact on the elderly.

Being alone when we don’t want to makes us sick, both physically and emotionally. In these kinds of circumstances, our characters can completely change.

2. When grudges and pride prevent forgiveness

If there’s one stage of life in which we should have learned to forgive, it’s in the autumn of our lives. It’s never good to reach the age of 60 or 70 with grudges, broken relationships, and people to whom we no longer speak. Sooner or later, we’ll regret it, often when there’s no going back.

There are many people who age poorly because, in their day-to-day life, pride has meant more than empathy.

3. Some experiences change our personalities

As we mentioned earlier, it tends to be assumed that we reach old age with the same character we had in our youth. Therefore, those who were unpleasant and not particularly sociable would remain so. However, the truth is that research tells us that the human personality isn’t as stable as we might believe.

It’s true that some aspects that appear in childhood don’t change. That said, a study conducted by the University of Edinburgh (UK) states that personality changes as we mature, and encounter certain experiences and learning. Furthermore, certain traumatic or painful experiences can affect us in a profound way, influencing our aging. For example, we might become more distrustful, hopeless, etc.

4. Their psychosocial situation

Economic problems, living in a disadvantaged environment, or being at risk of exclusion all affect aging. In fact, although it’s often said that money doesn’t bring happiness, in reality, it’s the means that facilitates or hinders an individual’s subsistence.

If there are no resources, if health care isn’t adequate, and a person suffers chronic stress, it becomes extremely difficult for them to face their daily life and the passing of the years.

Happy seniors at the beach, the opposite of people who age poorly
Having good social connections promotes healthy aging.

5. Not accepting the passage of time

Growing old with optimism implies accepting the impact of the years on our bodies. It isn’t easy and it’s not taught to us at school. In addition, there are often extremely distorted biases towards the elderly. Consequently, there are many who resist and show a clear phobia regarding this stage of life and fight against it.

Needless to say, there are few battles that are more unsuccessful -at least for now- than facing the passage of time. Denying age only brings suffering. In fact, those who have trouble coping with aging are, for the most part, unhappy men and women.

One of the strategies that we should set ourselves is to pay attention to the psychological sphere in the aging process itself. The most important actions are to set goals however old we are, keep active minds, and continue to enjoy social connections.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

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This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.