Like most of us, I have long known that women tend to outlive men. However, each time I visit a nursing home or assisted living facility, I feel startled by the disproportionate number of women residents. Here is a summary of some key points from online research that I did shortly after visiting my age 93 mother-in-law in her Harrisburg, PA assisted living community:
- The most current life expectancy figures predict U.S. women living to age 80.3 and American men surviving to 75.3.
- Numerous factors affect life expectancy, e.g. race, geographical region, lifestyle, educational and socioeconomic level, career, etc.
- Although women have historically lived much longer than men, the gap is narrowing sharply over the past 30 years, as more women take on work stress and less men are engaging in heavy manual labor.
- The mortality gap varies during stages of life. For example, in the age range of 15 to 24, men are nearly five times more likely to die than women, largely due to violent and reckless behavior of men in that age group (a “testosterone storm”). Between ages 55 to 64, more men than women die, mainly due to heart disease, suicide and substance abuse.
Life expectancy for both genders has continued to increase as a direct result of overall healthier lifestyles, improved nutrition, medical science advances and unprecedented wealth. Consequently, the next generation of retirement communities and nursing homes is likely to reflect a more even distribution of men and women, which is encouraging to me, as a man.