top of page

Fight the fear of getting older, live life with a purpose

Each day in my email, I receive Merriam-Webster’s “Word of the Day.” I credit it for my ever-growing vocabulary. Recently, a word came across my desk, catching my eye: FOGO. It’s not really a word, it is an acronym or as Merriam-Webster defines: a word formed from the initial letter of each of the successive parts of a compound term. In other words, each letter stands for a distinct word. FOGO is made up of the first letter of four words that together convey a unique meaning, FOGO—fear of getting older.

FOGO is widespread. Along with aging, comes a fair amount of misunderstandings, falsehoods, and fallacies about growing older, often paralyzing aging people. Author on aging topics and Psychology Today blogger Meg Selig has written about FOGO. The

seventy-eight -year-old points out three amazing facts, dispelling myths about getting older:

  1. Older people tend to be happier people. From age 51 upward, she writes from her research, happiness levels begin to increase. If that’s the case, I should be delirious.

  2. Older people tend to be healthier people. Most older people rate their health as either good or excellent because they can still do the things that matter to them.

  3. Older people are mentally healthier. Older people have lower rates of nearly all mental problems, including depression and social anxiety, as noted in the book, A Long Bright Future, by longevity and aging expert Laura Carstensen.

There’s another fear I won’t talk about and that is FOLO. You’ve probably never heard of that one—I just made it up: FOLO—fear of

LOOKING older. I’m not going to touch that one. But it is important to grow older with grace and healthy aging.

In fact, I want to encourage those of you of a certain age—and you will know if I’m talking about you—to have a “Plan for Healthy Aging.” Ask yourself, “What can I do to make life better today?” Too many people go to their graves with their music still inside them,