A recent article in the Times of India talks about how men tend to get depressed in their old age while women tend to get more adventurous.
This is something we have also noticed on our trips to old age homes and retirement communities. In all of these places, women appear happier and more participative while the men appear subdued and sombre. While the women band together and enjoy group activities, the men seem to shy away from the company of others.
There could be many reasons for this difference in behaviour, especially in an largely male dominated Indian environment.
Let’s look at why women may be happier at old age homes.
1. They have other women of the same age group to share their days with. There are a fair number of studies that show that women thrive in the company of their girl friends.
2. They don’t have to cook, at least unless they actually want to.
3. They are no longer expected to be at the beck and call of their husband / children.
4. They no longer have to take care of all the house work.
5. For the first time in their lives, they have the time to pursue things that interest them.
As for the men:
1. They feel they are no longer the centre of their families. They are no longer the bread-winner in the family and this can take some getting used to. Retirement deprives them of work, company of peers, and the self-esteem that comes from earning.
2. Without work, there is no vacation. Many men make elaborate plans for after their retirement with rest, relaxation and recuperation forming a large part of it, only to find themselves looking for work again, not for the money but to feel part of a society in which they are a contributing member. So the free time they should be enjoying no longer feels like an extended vacation, but makes them feel they are wasting time.
3. Many of the retirement homes do not allow liquor. Some of the men who had enjoyed some social drinking during their working days may be missing such activities.
If your parents are living in an old age home or retirement community, please do observe them and see if they are showing any signs of depression. Especially the men, they may not tell you themselves that they are feeling depressed. But with your care, some counselling and where required, proper treatment, you can help them live their senior years in a happy frame of mind.