This article discusses how long-term anxieties often ruin retirement. It says that many people are able to cope with or hide them for most of their adult years. Also, researchers now believe that anxieties might become worse as we age. It says many people let anxieties ruin their retirements, because they don’t recognize them or seek help.
Parker’s fear of heights — small, enclosed spaces also made him nervous — is not unusual. About 12 percent of US adults have struggled at some point in their lives with a specific phobia, an often paralyzing fear of such things as spiders, flying, or driving over bridges or through tunnels, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
But as the population ages, researchers are realizing they have long underestimated the reach of these hidden anxieties among older adults. Anxiety disorders are now believed to be more prevalent than dementia in people over age 65.
Yet Parker’s decision to seek help last spring, at the age of 71, is out of the ordinary. Only about one-third of those struggling with a phobia get treatment, government data show.