Gerascophobia: An abnormal and persistent fear of growing old. Sufferers of this fear experience undue anxiety about aging even though they may be in good health--physically, economically and otherwise. They may worry about the loss of their looks, the loss of independence, inactivity after retirement, impaired mobility, the onset of disease, and confinement in a nursing home. Modern society's preoccupation with youthful beauty does nothing to alleviate their fears.
The desire to remain young had an interesting consequence after the Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León traveled to America with Columbus on the latter's second voyage to the New World. Native Americans told Ponce de León tales of a "fountain of youth" on an island called Bimini north of Cuba. In 1513, Ponce de León set out to find the fabled island--and discovered Florida.
"Gerascophobia" is derived from the Greek "geras" (old age) and "phobos" (fear). Other English words derived from "geras" include "geriatrics" (the branch of medicine focusing on the elderly) and "gerontology" (the study of aging).
Last Editorial Review: 5/13/2016