Objective: This study investigated the relationship between death anxiety (DA) and fear towards patients according to the age and illness of the patient. Methods: A sample of 94 undergraduate nursing students from an Australian university were presented with a hypothetical patient, who varied by age (29 years or 71 years) and illness (arthritis, cancer or dementia). They then completed measures of DA and fear towards the patient. Results: Older patients with dementia were associated with higher DA compared to all other conditions. Greater fear was associated with patients in the dementia target condition. Conclusion: The findings from this study are consistent with terror management theory; specifically, older age and terminal illness are associated with greater DA. Implications are discussed regarding the quality of care provided to older people with dementia.