Maybe you are a senior, and have at some point found yourself bickering with your spouse over who has it worse in this whole “getting old” thing. Aging often affects men and women in different ways, physically, emotionally, and psychologically. There are pluses and minuses to getting on in years for both sexes; so hold your bickering for a moment, and read on to learn a little about what to expect from aging effects, and how to appreciate the unique experiences that impact older men and women, that it may hopefully bring you and your life partner of all these years closer together.
Certain elements of the changes that age brings generally impact men and women differently. A survey showed that women are typically perceived as “old” about five years before men. And women are often more conscious of their fading youthful beauty than men, as women frequently feel under greater pressure to look young. The decreasing amount of “guys double-taking at the sight of your walking down the sidewalk” can decrease the confidence of aging women, and lead to depression for those who are not yet accepting of the transition into this next era of life. In fact, a recent study showed that 42% of middle-aged women expressed that they would consider plastic surgery, Botox, and other anti-aging procedures in order to look younger, as opposed to only 18% of middle-aged men.
Here it is important for men to encourage their wives whenever they are troubled with feelings of “looking old.” A wife may benefit emotionally by being reassured that she is still beautiful to the man she loves. She may do well to know that the experiences you both have shared, as well as the person she has aged into is more at the heart of this relationship than just mere appearances.
Evidenced by people like George Clooney and Robert Downy Jr., men can sometimes pull off the greying hairs and aging face as adding distinction, an intellectual semblance, and charm to their appearance. But while men may not tend to feel as devastated by the diminishing of their youthful looks, they often struggle with other challenges of aging. The physical limitations that a weakening body can bring may make a man feel less useful and less independent around his home. Men can become depressed as their libido starts to wind down and sexual activity becomes less possible or less frequent. And that stereotypical male reluctance to ask for help or admit to weakness can be detrimental to getting any needed health care, and sometimes lead to cases of Alzheimer’s to not be detected or treated until later stages of the disease.
Here, wives may have an opportunity to provide some consolation to their aging husbands, by assuring them that they by no means have to be a “superman” anymore, and all that matters is getting whatever help is needed, to that they can remain healthily together for more years to come.
It is a well-known health phenomenon that women tend to outlive men by a few years. This can have psychological implications on seniors of both sexes. Men can feel uneasy and depressed about leaving their loved ones behind; and studies have shown that mortality rates for widowed spouses rises in the two years after their loved-one’s passing. Living longer also consequentially makes women more statistically likely to develop age-related disorders. Approximately 65% of seniors with Alzheimer’s are women, and the residents in memory care facilities are overwhelmingly female.
While there are fewer cases of elderly men with Alzheimer’s and dementia than women, the amount of men with memory-hindering diseases is increasing. And men are still sometimes faced with the circumstance of being in the minority at memory care and assisted living facilities, where women may in general feel more accommodated.
When overviewing information about aging, like this, it is good for seniors to understand that the changes happening to themselves and their spouses are natural and mostly inevitable. The best thing that can be done is to appreciate the physical and emotional needs of an aging husband or wife in the later years of a marriage. No one has it better or worse in this “getting old” thing, as long as they are supported and surrounded by others who care, whether it is a spouse, other relatives, or the friendly staff at an assisted living community.