Been in your shoes.....and even worse.
1. Age doesn't really matter. Yes, you MAY be a bit sorer the older you are having any tooth extracted. That's just the way it is. Imagine spraining your ankle now. It would hurt more and take longer to heal than when your 16. That's just part of being older. But as far as pain, wisdom (or any tooth) extraction is rather quite simple and generally pain free. The after effects are the worse of it all and even they aren't terrible. The "fat lip" feeling, taking antibiotics, some swelling are all minor things.
2. Using a local oral surgeon is fine and trust me, odds are the dentist keeps a clean "shop". Too much liability if they don't. As far as that news report, it was actually the nurses who didn't sanitize, sterilize, or autoclave the instruments.
3. As far as the anesthesia, usually not. But most generally it's nitrous and that's fairly easy on the stomach. The Novocaine is the weird part....that feeling of being numb and trying to talk only to slobber all over your self. Just a word of advice: have some one to drive you to AND from the appointment if you "go under". The effects of the nitrous SOMETIMES lasts a few hours and it's like being super drunk while doing every illegal drug ever made. And make sure to clear every thought out of your head before dozing off. When you come to, you'll be talking all sorts of nonsense and generally say things you shouldn't say out loud.
4. As far as surviving, yeah, just about every single person has survived wisdom tooth extractions.
I had my first wisdoms pulled at the ripe old age of 32. Just started hurting for no reason. Got both the upper and lower pulled on a Saturday afternoon just four days before Christmas and was fine to enjoy the holiday. The next wisdom came out less than a month later when I decided they needed to go. I held out on the last one till a year later. But all was for nothing as a short time later a accident left me with nothing but broken teeth. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. I went to the dentist the next day and because I was still suffering the effects of a concussion, he couldn't put me under and opted to only use the shots to numb. I didn't feel a thing (except the shot but even that just feels like a little pinch) and less than 10 minutes later after the Novocaine kicked in, not a single tooth was left. I was sore for about two days but after that, no swelling, no pain, no nothing. The guy was a regular old dentist but does do oral surgery.
Trust me, getting a single tooth pulled is a breeze. Be sure to follow the instructions they give you for post-op care and take the meds. Be sure to stock up on pudding, ice cream, soft foods for the next few days. Get plenty of rest after and take it easy (no bending over, heavy lifting, etc.) for about a week to allow the clot to form and allow the gum to seal the hole up. Don't even THINK about using a straw as dry socket is a pain you do not want.