Widows Are Less Frail
Coming on the heels of recent reports that married people are generally healthier than singles, we have an opposing opinion, in the form of a study from Italy published in the Journal of Women's Health.
Researchers from the University of Padova were surprised to find that, among older women, those who are widowed have a lower risk of becoming frail than their married counterparts.
Pre-investigation, they predicted that unmarried older people would have a higher risk than their widowed or single counterparts, because marital status is virtually always linked with reduced risk of disability and death.
The team analyzed data on 1,887 men and women (65 and over) who had been followed for at least 4 years, and for whom there was no evidence of frailty when they enrolled in the study.
“Frailty” was defined by unintentional weight loss in the previous 12 months, measures of exhaustion, physical activity, ability to walk a short distance and handgrip strength.
Single men showed more frailty than married men, as expected. But among the older women in the group, it was the widowed women who had the lowest risk of developing these traits.
Although it goes against one previously held medical theory, this finding would seem to confirm another: Sociological studies have suggested that being single is worse for a man’s health than for a woman’s.