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Women Show Better Well-being With Age

Health In Focus   - G J E 4
Highlights:
  • Women are found to be a lot more confident about themselves when they grow older than when they are younger, according to a new study
  • Younger women are faced with apprehensions about declining health and beauty.
  • Older women who maintain their youthful attributes have a better wellbeing
Women Show Better Well-being With Age
Women Show Better Well-being With Age
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Women during mid-life tend to worry about the wrinkles and other tell-tale signs of aging that are brushed under the broad carpet of mid-life crisis. However, a new study has shown that women past a certain age have better emotional well-being than their younger counterparts.

‘Don’t regret getting older, It is a privilege denied to many’
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The concerns that plague women at different stages in their life contribute to their wellness.

In younger women, their concerns are focused on
  • Declining health
  • Reduction in attractiveness
Older women who look after themselves and who maintain their youthful identities improve their well-being. The study titled "Explaining age differences in women's emotional well-being: The role of subjective experiences of aging" explores the reasons why some women may feel insecure but that insecurity may be quashed as they grow older.

There is a lot of attention and importance that is given to women who are young, however the world is a lot harsher for women who are older. There is a conscious marginalization of older women, that can lead to frayed confidence and which can affect women even before they reach old age.

Anne Barrett who is the sociology professor and director of FSU's Pepper Institute on Aging and Public Policy said "Our society's marginalization of older women can have consequences for women across adulthood. It can erode their emotional well-being long before they reach old age."

Women Accept Their Body Weight More Now Than Ever Before

Though the number of obese people is on the rise across the world, women, in general, are found to be more accepting of their weight gain than ever before. Dissatisfaction with body weight can lead to eating disorders like anorexia, bulimia or even lead to severe mental health illness like depression.

A study conducted by Brian Karaszia evaluated over 250 studies that examined women's dissatisfaction with their body weight. The studies found that women were more dissatisfied with their body weight than men were, but the degree of dissatisfaction is far lower now than ever before. This study stresses the growing trend of women feeling a lot more confident about how they look.

Body Dissatisfaction

In a study conducted by researchers from the Trinity College in January 2013, it was found that women, who often talked about being too fat or too old, had a negative body image. This negative body image can affect their mental as well as physical health.

Younger women spoke more about being fat and less about getting old, while older women tended to have more conversations about growing old. All these were considered as triggers that lead to body dissatisfaction.

5 Signs of Aging

In the current context of greater onus on beauty, triggered by selfies and Instagram posts, the well-being of women needs to be closely monitored. University of South Florida's researchers Barret and Erica Toothman studied 5 aspects that they felt were good indicators about how women felt about aging.

Age Identity
  • The time associated with middle age
  • Attitudes associated with aging
  • Anxieties associated with aging
  • Physiological changes
The results showed that younger women were more anxious about aging which affected their well-being, whereas older women who maintained youthful identities were far less anxious. "It points to the relevance of ageism to all of us — across our lives," Barrett said. "It also highlights the need for visibility and positive representations of older women across all domains of life in the media, in politics and other arenas." In the study, young women and older women were asked to fill in extensive questionnaires that helped identify their apprehensions about aging.

Younger women were very anxious but older women were a lot more confident. The differences were largely due to society's perception of women and the greater pressure on women to look younger and to cover up tell-tale signs of aging.

When older women were asked how young they feel, they indicated a number that was at least 5 years younger than their actual age. Barrett added "We focus on women because their decline in status as they age is steeper than men's. For example, they face more age discrimination in the workplace and feel more pressure to mask signs of aging. This double standard of aging pointed us to a novel explanation for older women's better emotional well-being, compared with younger women."

This study highlights the importance of believing that age is just a number and preventing negative emotions associated with declining physical appearance from affecting the quality of life lead.

Reference:
  1. Explaining age differences in women's emotional well-being: The role of subjective experiences of aging - (http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/08952841.2015.1017426)


Source: Medindia
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