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I See Your Point

August 1 2008 at 1:03 PM
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Bob  (no login)
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Response to Re: Who's Happier?

And in many respects, I think one cannot generalize or come up with conclusions because there are too many variables, exceptions to the rules, etc. Yet, as with the news clip, we still make general statements about things.

I saw another story today that specified findings further, stating that "Older men are happier than older women." I find this especially hard to believe. True, women of that age tended to work much less than their male counterparts, and to work in lower-paying fields. As I mentioned, money problems anytime, but especially in old age, can greatly influence "happiness" . . which might mean older, poorer women are less happy. But, if the women were married, and (as with my own mother) they get half their late husbands' retirement income as well their own income, that could help to mitigate the money crunch.

Another area that could potentially affect older men and older women different is the prospects for romantic relationships. As we all know, women outlive men by an average of several years, so those men who survive could have a greater selection of females to choose from, while the women have fewer options. Again, a mitigating factor is: Do the women (or men) even care about that? From my work, I see that elderly women tend to maintain greater interest and enthusiasm for all sorts of things when compared to elderly men. On the face, one might think that would include relationships, but by the elder years what difference does it make what the gender of potential companions is? By that age, sex generally is on the back-burner, if its in the picture at all. And (again, my experience), women make better companions/friends to other women than men are. They have more to talk about, laugh about and there is less fussing between them.

True, elderly men can and do maintain interests and social connections, but think that is at a significantly reduced rate than for women. And, a lot of older women I've known grew tired of "grumpy, old men" and their demands. Not just older women, but increasingly women in their 50's, 40's, even 30's appear to feel that way -- that men are a pain and a bother, and . . who needs em?

Generally, family involvement continues more strongly in the lives of aging women than for aging men. There is something about "Mom" or "Grandma" that keeps families coming back, in a way that "ad" or Grandpa" does not. (Again, in my experience . . . and many variables -- like what kind of parent or grandparent the elderly person was toward family members -- influences family involvement too).

Add to this that women tend to maintain better health in their older years, and to maintain their cognitive and speech abilities better than men as they age, and I think there is every reason to believe that women could be the happier gender, and especially as they advance in age . . . regardless what the studies say.

(Note: My male friends and colleages also tend to disagree with my thoughts on this. But, I wonder if this reaction by males might be related to our intense desire to feel like we are in control, master of our environment, the "King" . . and to ignore facts to the contrary that would lead us to consider ourselves less able, vulnerable, less blessed and less in control. We men really want that -- to feel we are doing well and have some control).

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