Gender and health issues in ageing

Lorraine Dennerstein, Susan Feldman, Carolyn Murdaugh, Jacques Rossouw, Sharon Tennstedt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


There are pronounced gender differences relating to health and ageing reflecting biological and social differences and transitions and adaption to these. The most obvious biological difference is that women have a finite length of reproductive functioning, the termination of which is marked by menopause. The menopausal transition has physical, psychological and sexual concomitants. Postmenopausal life is characterise by increased cardiovascular and osteoporotic risk. Interventions for these disorders have not been adequately evaluated. Men live on average about 7 years less than women in most developed countries. Women form the majority of carers. The most common cost of caring is social, a restriction in personal and leisure time, and is directly related to the amount of care provided. The negative health effects of caring are primarily psychological, not physical. Most of the widowed are women. An Australian study found that women widowed in the last 12 months had lower self- related health and were more likely to report they were stressed about their health. Recently widowed women scored lower on all the subscales of the SF-36 and were also more likely to be taking medication for 'nerves' and 'medication to help you sleep'. Women widowed longer than 12 months did not score significantly differently than married women on these parameters. Widowed women reported more difficulty managing on their income than did married women, regardless of the length of widowhood. Widows also reported more stress with children and other family members than did married women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)19-21
Number of pages3
JournalAustralasian Journal on Ageing
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
StatePublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Community and Home Care
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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