how to deal with the fact that I am getting older and becoming chronically aware of that

After my latest birthday I have started to realize that I am getting older and I am not looking forward for it at all and I believe I am thinking too much about it, for example when I see an old actor in a tv interview I think about his "golden years" are gone or when I see old people in the gym working out (maybe in their 70's) I kind of panic to think that this is going to be me in 20 years and the worse part is that I know that the next 20 years will fly and one day I will wake up and turn 70 as it happened with the last 20 years that they seems to be gone in a few seconds and not really years. In other words I have realized in the last few years that time goes very quickly and I am not happy about it. What can I do to mitigate such feelings and thoughts?
Asked by Chuck

Thanks for writing in with this timely and important question.

Aging in society is such a contradictory topic. On one hand we are presented with images and messages about aging gracefully and our "golden years" and on the other hand we are constantly bombarded with anti-aging products, younger people on tv, and time does seem to be flying. It is hard not to be aware of aging in this kind of climate. Accepting aging is easier said than done and in fact it is okay to be upset about it. 

You mention the past few years passing quickly and not being happy about it. Of course, we can't change the passage of time, but working with a therapist and figuring out what about your life you might not be so happy with is something that is worth exploring. What is your fear about being that 70 year old? I mentioned sitting with those feelings of sadness, anger, and grief about aging. A trained therapist can also help you navigate these and work on coping skills for when those come. 

Aging for some can mean grandchildren, finally retiring, or getting to focus on your hobbies more. For other people it conjures images of loss of independence and more. So what can we do to combat those things? You mentioned that 70 year old in the gym. Well go them! Staying physically active and engaging in the community is a huge protective factor. We don't hit a certain age where we stop feeling youthful or being able to enjoy life, but our bodies can limit some of that if we don't take care of it as best we can.

The same is true for our minds. Changing up your routine, learning something new, or travel. It's time to explore your passions. It also helps to stay social now whether through community, friends, clubs, or family helps shield us against isolation which puts older adults at risk for depression. 

Seventy, eighty and above don't have to be taboo words spelling misery if you don't want them to be. I'm not saying you're going to look forward to aging, but I think by being proactive and working with a therapist on some of these feelings and thoughts it doesn't have to be dreaded.