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Women handle old age better than men: Survey

Last updated on: September 17, 2010 14:11 IST

Women handle old age better than men: Survey

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A woman is considered to be emotionally stronger than a man, but now a new survey has found that due to their inner strengths, older women can handle old age pressures better than men.

According to the survey, 46 per cent elderly women were found less isolated due to their inner strengths like patience, fine-tuning with family and society members than elderly men (31 per cent).

This was revealed by an all-India survey of 10,000 senior citizens in 20 states done by a non-governmental organisation called Agewell Foundation. The survey aimed to ascertain the causes of isolation in old age and its consequences on the health of the elderly in particular and the society in general. According to psychiatrist Sanjay Chugh, women have more emotional strength and tolerance than men.


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"It's not only the older women; women of all ages are stronger than males. The nature of life that a woman has to lead in our society is different from man. The hardships of daily life make them stronger than man," says Himanshu Rath, founder of Agewell Foundation.

Matthew Cherian, chairman of Helpage India, also agrees that the efforts made by a woman to run the daily household make her stronger.

"Women endure old age better due to their complex life and as a result have an active ageing than man," he says. Chugh also points out that woman are more prone to depression than man.


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"Woman face empty nest syndrome in old age. When children settle down away from home, the home becomes an empty nest. Since a mother is more attached to her children than the father, she is more likely to get depressed," he says.

As many as 71 per cent older people surveyed felt that in spite of their active participation in the family's financial matters as well as social obligations, younger family members were ignoring them.

According to the study, 73.5 per cent of older persons in urban areas had limited access to social interactions and consequently they face lower self-esteem and decline in interpersonal skills. They are also found to be more self-conscious.


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Even people living in joint families have less interaction with family members, with 39 per cent complaining about that.

In the opinion of 86 per cent older persons, isolation in old age is dangerous, as it leads to depression resulting in many diseases, both mental and physical. 65-year-old widower Javed Ali of Shahdara lives alone in his house. His sons and daughters left him and settled in other parts of the city.

"I manage to take care of my daily needs. I do not have any major diseases but I feel depression due to lack of family support. When I visit my grandchildren, I feel happy and satisfied," he says.


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According to Rath, "Depression is quite common among many people, particularly in old age. It is a major social challenge that cannot and should not be ignored. However, to fight depression in old age, both the suffering older persons and the family members need to join hands and work together to bring back the golden happy times."

Agewell has launched a booklet to tackle depression during old age. It deals with the symptoms and causes of depression and loneliness and provides guidelines for senior citizens to fight it.


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