It’s no surprise that men and women age differently. Not only do our physical bodies handle the aging process in varying ways, but our coping abilities are also starkly contrasted. Extensive research in this area shows exactly how men and women age differently.
- Longevity – It’s a well-known statistic that women have a longer lifespan than men. In general, females live approximately five to six years more than males, as stated in this 2014 report by the World Health Organization.There are numerous theories as to why this is the case. Scientists have not yet pinpointed exact causes, although they have speculated stress and lifestyle as leading factors.
- Happiness – Women are reportedly more content during their senior years. This is attributed to women having better communication skills and more empathy, and likely more intimate/personal relationships. Men are more likely to become lonely and depressed as they age because they have fewer emotional coping skills.
- Weight gain – Both sexes begin to gain weight after the age of 30. Men typically stop gaining in their mid-50’s while women continue to put on weight until about age 65.
- Skin – Men lose less collagen and have thicker skin, therefore showing fewer signs of aging.
- Hair loss – Both men and women experience hair loss during the aging process. However, men are much more susceptible to pattern baldness.
- Disease – Certain diseases affect men or women more prevalently. For example, men are more likely to have Parkinson’s disease while women are more prone to suffer from Alzheimer’s.
Gender Differences in Senior Care
Because of the longevity gap, assisted-living communities have seven female residents to every one male. Skilled nursing facilities have rates hovering closer to 10 to 1. You might think that men would like these odds. However, a lot of men feel that senior living communities are too feminine. This can create challenges when attempting to select the best community for your loved one. Senior men have different needs than women, and it’s important to find a community that has plenty to offer male residents.
Men have a significantly more difficult time coping with the aging process. Many men based their self-worth on their societal or professional role in life. Once they are no longer working, they may begin to feel useless. Without essential social interaction, they can become lonely and depressed. Here are some things you can do to help the older men in your life:
- Give them “jobs” and responsibilities. This gives them a sense of value.
- Allow them to teach younger people some useful skills. Intergenerational activities are highly beneficial to seniors and youngsters. This helps the older person feel important and useful.
- Recognize the person’s history and identity.
Males tend to value independence and leadership. Anything you can do to reinforce these feelings will be immensely helpful to aging men. Take these factors into consideration when approaching delicate topics with the senior men in your life.
Aging is inevitable for both men and women. Although we experience the process differently, we are in many ways the same. All senior citizens need to feel valued and deserve the best care we can provide for them. Understanding the similarities and differences that men and women experience as they get older helps us provide optimal care.