Men gaining on women in life expectancy, and quality of life in later years

Men gaining on women in life expectancy, and quality of life in later years

Women are lagging behind men in gains in longer, healthy lives.

Women still have a higher life expectancy than men, but a new study has found the quality of life for women in their final years is lowered by dealing with more disabilities than their male counterparts, according to an article on UPI.

Life expectancy has grown for both sexes over the last 30-plus years, with men living about five years longer than before, but women, even though they continue to outlive men in general, have only gained an additional two years over the period.  But while males have also gained in the number of years they can independently, women have failed to register any gains in that category, which has been virtually the same since the 1980s.

The researchers from the University of Michigan and at Syracuse University say we need to focus more attention on the conditions that elderly women are forced to contend with as they age.

In a press release, Vicki Freedman, who is a researcher at UM, said, “Older men have been living longer and experiencing disability at later ages than they used to, while older women have experienced smaller increases in life expectancy and even smaller postponements in disability.  As a result, older women no longer can expect to live more active years than older men, despite their longer lives.”

The data which the research team analyzed came from a part of the National Long Term Care Survey, which ran from 1982 to 2004, and from 2011’s National Health and Aging Trends Study.  The findings show that starting at age 65, the life expectancy of men increased by over four years, while women only recorded a 1.4 year increase.  The gap was even more pronounced when starting at age 85, where men can now expect to live another 4.5 years, almost twice as long as in 1982, but women can only expect another 2.5 years without becoming disabled.

The researchers point out a greater likelihood of arthritis, falls, depression and dementia-type illnesses as a reason for the lack of improvement in the rates of women.

Freedman added just a few years back, “older women used to live more years than men without needing help taking care of themselves or managing basic household activities.  Now she says, that doesn’t appear to be the same.

The study results can be found in the American Journal of Public Health.

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