Women develop more health problems and illnesses in old age
It is common knowledge that women generally live longer than men. Although life expectancy is higher for women, their quality of life is poorer because they suffer from more illnesses and disabilities in old age, researchers from the University of Michigan now said.
Women have a longer life expectancy than men. However, researchers from the University of Michigan have now found in a study that women are sick more often in old age. For this reason, the quality of life of women is worse when they get old. The doctors published the results of their study in the journal "American Journal of Public Health".
Women are more likely to have health problems in old age
For their study, the scientists examined the data from subjects who were all 65 years and older. The researchers tried to determine whether the participants were restricted in their daily activities due to illnesses or disabilities of old age. Then the doctors followed the subjects over the next few years to determine the time of their death. The researchers found that between 1982 and 2011 the number of additional years women 65 years of age had increased from 18.5 to 20.5 years. What was even more striking was that 30 percent of women over the age of 65 had a 30 percent chance of a health disability that they would have to do with for the rest of their lives. This value was the same for women in both 1982 and 2011, the experts say. In contrast, the likelihood of a disability after the age of 65 has decreased in the past few decades. In 1982 the figure was 22 percent. In 2011, the probability dropped to 19 percent, the scientists add.
Men have more healthy and active years of life in old age
The researchers saw it as a health disability when the subjects reported that health problems prevented them from performing their normal activities, such as eating, shopping independently, and getting up from bed. While women live more years than men, they expect less active and healthy years, says lead author Professor Vicki A. Freedman of the University of Michigan. It was a surprise to see that men began to outperform women when it came to healthy and active years of life in old age, adds Prof. Freedman. The reasons for this are probably very complex.
Women often lack the economic resources to maintain their health
Men and women certainly have different health conditions when they get older. It may be possible that there has been greater progress in the treatment of heart diseases, and such diseases mostly affect men, the doctors say. Women are more likely to develop arthritis, a condition in which treatment has not progressed so well. Another reason could be differences in the behavior of older adults. First, cigarette smoking among women has increased, while the number of smokers has decreased over the past decades. In addition, older women have fewer economic resources on average than men. As a result, women were not so well placed to maintain their health in old age, explains Prof. Freedman.
Social and health systems urgently need to be expanded
Older women are more likely to show health disabilities because they live longer regardless of health problems. As the population ages and women generally live longer, this has an enormous impact on the quality of life of women. They get older and have a poor quality of life in their later years. In addition, they have neither the social nor the economic resources to deal with these problems, the researchers explain. In future, the physicians demand that sufficient social and health systems, such as assisted living facilities, nursing homes and home help programs, are urgently required. We are still far from being ready to provide such treatment to older people over the next 30 years. (as)