Thursday, September 13, 2007

Gender and old age

Okay, I'm turning 45 next month, which means I may (probably) only have 20 - 30 years of functioning similar to what I can do know. That's not much time; I can remember 20 years ago.

This has got me thinking about old age and how it varies by gender. It seems to me that women live longer than men in part because they maintain their social roles longer into old age. Here's what I mean...

A traditional perspective on men has them working hard outside the home and coming home and having much less to do. Take away the work, e.g., retirement, and the man doesn't do much. Not doing much = accelerated decline in well being.

A traditional view of women, on the other hand, have them engaged in family and social connections that one doesn't suddenly retire from. Ergo, they are more involved during the retirement years and they do better.

These thoughts are informed by low-N observations of men and women in their seventies. The men I know are not doing well, either with disabilities or a general malaise. The women, however, are much more engaged with their social world, doing much of what they did when they were in their sixties.

What do you think? Is there some reality to this?

I have cleverly insured high-level functioning till late in life. By not saving for retirement, I won't be able to!


Ben said...

So my wife's making me put away the paper and turn off the TV to do some real parenting is actually just her way of making me begin to develop habits that foster social roles that will keep me around longer??? Wow. What excuse will I have now?

Knumb said...

OK, I'll be Fred Flinstone until I turn 40.

Give a few more tips on beating this trend *next* week.

Brad Wright said...

That's right Ben... it's all about the love. She's thinking of you!

Sorry John, that's my one tip, and I don't even know if it's any good.

S.S.Stone said...

Hope you're doing neurobics! It keeps the memory sharp!