Do women age differently than men?
June 2, 2014
Aging is different for men and women. Not only do the male and female body respond differently to aging, the male and female psychology does too. Taken together, aging for men and women can be an entirely different experience.
Here are some ways aging is different for men and women:
It is a fact that, almost everywhere in the world, women live longer than men. Some think that the reason for longer life expectancy for women is that men do more dangerous things and have more dangerous occupations (being in the armed forces, for example). That explains some, but not all, of the differences. Other explanations include the fact that women are more likely to see a doctor and (possibly) be diagnosed earlier for health problems.
Sex and Aging
Sex and aging are very different for men and women. A woman’s body responds to aging dramatically (with menopause) while a man’s body responds more gradually.
Hormones too play out different in men and women as they age. For women, estrogen and aging is a major concern, especially during menopause and after. For men, testosterone and aging is the dominate hormonal component of aging.
Now let’s look at the people who make it to 100 or beyond. They are called centenarians. Men and women can both get to 100+ (though women are more likely to make it than men). There are some differences about men and women who make it though:
- 24% of male centenarians and 43% of female centenarians fit the profile of “survivors.” These are people who had a diagnosis of (at least) one of the age-related illnesses listed about before age 80.
- 32% percent of men and 15% of women over 100 fit the profile of “escapers” or people who did not have any major health conditions.
- 44% of men and 42% of women over 100 are “delayers” or people who did not have a major diagnosis until after the age of 80.
The message here, men who make it to 100 are much more likely to be “lucky” than women, who seem to be able to endure long-term illnesses.
Brain aging is also different for men and women. Men who are overweight, diagnosed with diabetes or have had a stroke are more likely to suffer from cognitive impairment while women are more likely if they were dependent on others for daily tasks and lacked a strong social network.
And finally, Among the older adults, who were facing the adversities that come with aging, men demonstrate less inclination to use these important coping skills compared to the women. In other words, older women were more likely than older men to tap their mental, emotional, and relational strengths to deal with adversity, which in turn left them less vulnerable to depression and anxiety in the face of difficulty.