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Women live longer but experience a lower quality of life during old age

Date:
July 2, 2010
Source:
FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology
Summary:
Catalan researchers have studied the socioeconomic and health inequalities experienced by people over the age of 64. The results of the study show that women live longer, but experience more limitations to daily activity and a lower quality of life than men of the same age.

The double burden of work that women experience throughout their lives is a key factor in explaining this difference in different studies.
Credit: SINC

Although women have a longer life expectancy, they experience a much greater prevalence of disability in old age than men do. This is the main conclusion of the study published in the latest issue of the Journal of Women's Health.

"We focused on a socioeconomic position factor such as educational level and health factors such as limitations to daily activity. By studying this relationship we were able to see the social inequalities in dependency," Albert Espelt, lead author of the study and a researcher at the Public Health Agency of Barcelona, said.

The study is based on the health surveys that have been carried out in Barcelona by the Public Health Agency since 1982. "These are representative of the non-institutionalised population living in Barcelona," explains the expert. In total, the team interviewed 4,244 people aged above 64 (893 in 1992, 2,140 in 2000 and 1,211 in 2006).

"We saw differences in limitations according to socioeconomic position, which remained steady over the course of time," the expert points out.

The prevalence of disability in people aged over 64 increased among women in Catalonia between 1992 and 2006, but not among men, due to the increase in female life expectancy. The prevalence of disability in 2006 was 30% among men and 53% in women. In other words, it increases among the most elderly women.

"The double burden of work that women experience throughout their lives (domestic work and work outside the home) is a key factor in explaining this difference in different studies," says Espelt. Domestic work is less rewarding than working outside the home, and leads to a greater prevalence of non-fatal diseases such as musculoskeletal problems and depression.

Fewer inequalities with the Law of Dependency?

The Law to Promote Personal Autonomy and Care for Dependent People governs the basic conditions for ensuring equality in personal autonomy and care for dependent people.

"In this sense, the law approved in 2006 has represented a step forward in recognising a new universal right for citizens. Now it is to be hoped that this law will help to reduce the social inequalities that we found in our study," points out the researcher.

"It is still too soon to demonstrate the impact of the 2006 law," says Espelt. The Public Health Agency of Barcelona is already designing a new health survey for 2011, which will include the same questions as the previous one.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Espelt et al. Disability Among Older People in a Southern European City in 2006: Trends in Gender and Socioeconomic Inequalities. Journal of Women s Health, 2010; 19 (5): 927 DOI: 10.1089/jwh.2009.1608

Cite This Page:

FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology. "Women live longer but experience a lower quality of life during old age." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 July 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100702100140.htm>.
FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology. (2010, July 2). Women live longer but experience a lower quality of life during old age. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100702100140.htm
FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology. "Women live longer but experience a lower quality of life during old age." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100702100140.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

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