“I never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude.”—Henry David Thoreau
I chatted with a dear friend the other day who in her mid-sixties and had always been single, about the topic of being alone.
She had this to say: “I’ve led an active life with many friends. I have mentored many young women during my long 30-year career and even shared my experience with several men.
“But because of my strong independent streak, I have never been in a long-term relationship with a guy since my late twenties.
“Even now, after having had major hip surgery, while I do find it difficult to do some stuff myself, I own my own home and have lived alone unafraid for most of my life. I feel no sadness.”
Merriam-Webster defines “singlehood” as “the state of being single and especially unmarried.” But most people now use the term to refer to people who are not in a long-term relationship.
In 2017, The Census Bureau reported that a record number of more than 110 million adults in the U.S. were not married. They were divorced or widowed or had always been single. Or, forty-five percent of all Americans aged 18 or older are single.
This figure is up slightly in the General Social Survey 2018 data that shows just over half of Americans between the ages of 18-34 (51%) said they do not have a steady romantic partner.
And the people, who did marry, according to the Census Bureau, were taking longer than ever to do so. According to the report, the median age of first marriage rose to 29.5 years for men and 27.4 for women.
By the time today’s young adults reach the age of 50, one in four of them will have been single all their life, according to Pew Research.
Are you single?
If so, and if singleness is a conscious decision, what does this data mean to you?
In the 1950s, society viewed singleness as abnormal. But many today find singlehood just as fulfilling without a partner.
Of course, there are many sides to the issue of singlehood.
What Do the Experts Have to Say?
One expert in the field of singleness, Bella DePaulo, Ph.D., Social Psychologist at the University of California, authored Singled Out: How Singles are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After (2007).
Dr. DePaulo writes extensively in the literature on this topic, including in Psychology Today.
Also, health journals and online news sites and health-related blogs often quote Dr. DePaulo.
Here are titles of just a few articles that reference Dr. DePaulo and her work:
“Women Single and Loving It,” by Jeanie Lerche Davis on WebMD
“Why More Women Are Staying Single,” by Olivia Willis on ABC Health & Wellbeing
“Five Health Benefits of Being Single,” Medical News Today
“There’s Never Been a Better Time to Be Single,” CNN Health (written by Dr. DePaulo)
Separating Truth from Fiction
Fiction 1: Marriage or long-term relationships ensure “happily ever after.” By getting married you will be happier, healthier or better off. You will have peace and tranquility. You will have someone to share your life with and will not grow old alone and die alone.
Truth 1: Yes, some studies show that married people are happier on average, but what about an abusive or unhealthy partnership? You will agree that such a situation can be psychologically devastating.
And there is no guarantee that you won’t die alone even if married. After all, how likely is it that you and your partner will die at the exact same time??
Fiction 2: Those who say, “Kids in single-parent homes are doomed!” These kids will end up as drug addicts, lawless, and anti-social while parents with two parents have perfectly conflict-free households.
Truth 2: Two-parent homes can provide many benefits. For instance, Sara McLanahan, Professor of Sociology at Princeton University in her research showed that “even a child in a stable single-parent household was likely to do worse on some measures than a child of a married couple.”
So it is true that raising children in a loving environment where they have access to opportunities, resources, and quality time from their parents, they will do well.
However, some studies show little to no differences between the kids raised by two parents and those in a single-parent home.
For example, a national study on substance abuse of more than 22,000 teenagers, found that about 5% of children of two-parent homes had substance abuse problems versus about 6% of children raised by single mothers.
Summary: the difference of 1% meant that the majority of children in single-parent households (94%) are doing fine.
Some situations do cause distress. Single-parent homes, for instance, is a matter of concern because many single parents and their children often will suffer economic need and social disadvantages.
The question often becomes if one parent can raise children successfully.
To quote one single mother of three: “Many nights I would pray to God in tears and say to him: ‘I don’t know what to do tomorrow’”
But unfortunately, single-parent families have become a permanent and noticeable feature in American society. And sociologists point out that the number of single mothers “overwhelmingly outweighs the number of single fathers.”
Regrettably, this can be one of the “angst of singlehood,” if you also happen to be a parent.
Another circumstance where singlehood may cause women in particular apprehension is when she loses her partner in death. A significant percentage of older women, for instance, struggle to stay out of poverty after becoming widowed.
In fact, for individuals 65 and over, the poverty rate for women across all ethnicities and races is 15.6% versus 12.2% for men. (Source: Kaiser Family Foundation, How Many Seniors Live in Poverty)
Singlehood and Psychology
Some who are single want partners. Perhaps they feel lonely. Others are seeking a “soulmate.” While it is true that a kind and loving companion can bring great joy to your life, singles should use caution and not rush into a relationship for the wrong reasons.
Marriage or a long-term relationship is not necessarily the solution to the problem of loneliness. For instance, poor communication can ruin a relationship. Feelings get hurt. One consequence could be that one partner becomes defensive and shuts down emotionally.
Would this not lead to loneliness?
So if you feel lonely, why not address the problem before you become romantically attached to someone? Adjust your attitude and habits. Take the initiative to make friends while you are still single and establish a solid foundation before entering into a long-term relationship.
Many people presume that most single women, in particular, are miserable and pining away for a partner.
Let me tell you a funny story:
Another friend, a sharp-looking, self-assured woman in her late 50s, called to tell me how tired she was of men trying to pick her up. One approached my friend at a gas station, another in a restaurant, and a third man at a social gathering—all during one week.
She had me cracking up when she described these gentlemen as pathetic and groveling and seemed ignorant to the fact that not all single women wanted to be “courted.”
She kindly declined all of these advances.
My friend, like numerous others, treasures her solitude. Many single women appreciate the opportunity to express their creativity. They embark on intellectual journeys or engage in activities that involve getting in touch with their spiritual selves on their terms.
Happy While Single
Here is a shortlist of the “happiness of singlehood”:
- Freedom: to create a trajectory that suits them and fill their life with things that make them happy and fulfilled. They don’t try to please others and can do things at the drop of a hat.They can do whatever they want and however they want. When it comes to careers, hobbies, or education, they have real freedom to choose!
- Personal Space: to have time to spend with themselves. It’s not that single people are anti-social or dislike being around others, but they enjoy solitude and never feel bored.
Single people do not crave to be part of a couple (married or in a long-term relationship). They don’t have to compromise with another person. One sociology professor described living alone in your apartment as an “oasis.”
- Health Benefits: an interesting article in Medical News Today (2018) stated that because single people do more sports than married couples, they weigh significantly less. They have a lower Body Mass Index (BMI).
A high BMI, as we know, increases the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers.
In this same article, it pointed out that mental health also improved because the single person has an increased sense of self-determination and enhanced personal development.
- Social Connections: in its research published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, found that single people (both men and women) are more likely to keep in touch.
Single people assist aging parents, siblings, and close friends more so than married or divorced people. Connectedness protects health; isolation increases the risk of early mortality.
- Peacefulness: to enjoy a solitary existence. Similar to “personal space” above, single people like quiet because they can contemplate or think deeply and at length without disturbance. They enjoy fewer responsibilities with others taking up their time and energy.
The Not So Happy While Single
Here’s a shortlist of the “angst of singlehood”:
- Loneliness: as mentioned earlier in this article, having a significant other to share their life with is a big concern for some singles. It is not a deliberate choice to be single. Living alone does not appeal to some singles; they desire a soulmate.
- Economics: you have twice as much money if you’re married or in a committed relationship. You can share living expenses, vacations, eating out, and so forth.
One single woman says each month her bank account statement and credit card bills remind her that there is “no splitting the cost.”And some single mothers, as I mentioned earlier, often suffer severe economic pressures and other social challenges. Some single mothers complain that it takes a “superwoman” to manage it all.
Also, in the United States, there are more than 1,000 provisions (1,138 to be exact) in federal laws in which marital status is a big plus.
Social security is but one example of the many benefits, rights, and privileges. If you’re married and your spouse dies, some of his or her benefits will go to you.
- Emotions: one single woman said, “Being single is the worst feeling in the world.” She had physical needs, such as two people in bed and shared love and caresses. No, she isn’t at all happy being single. And she feels frustrated. Perhaps you agree.
- Age: growing old alone scares many people. They fear they will die alone. Anxiety about this seems unreasonable. Anyone who nurtures family relationships and attends to their friends will have these people in their lives when tragedy strikes, and as they age.
- Health: some researchers say that married men, in particular, are healthier than single men. In an article published in the Health Daily News on March 23, 2019, entitled, “Single, Free, But Not So Healthy?” states that new research suggests, “Single life has its charm and freedoms, but adults who never marry may not live as long as their wedded peers.
”Numerous studies going back 150 years suggest that married men were more likely to practice good health habits, such as regular visits to the doctor, compared to single men and thus live longer.But this new survey, conducted by the University of California, Los Angeles researchers, focused on men who never married.
The researchers found that during an eight-year study, those who never married were 58 percent more likely to have died at the end of the study’s eight-year follow up period than those who were widowed, divorced or separated.
The conclusion: that in this study at least, for men, marriage has a significant benefit on health.
Another researcher, Howard S. Friedman, a psychology professor at the University of California, Riverside disagrees.
Dr. Friedman stated, “We did not find that single men are at greater risk for premature mortality, but rather some men are at greater risk for poor marriages and poor health and that those poor marriages, breakups, and divorces are stressful.”
(Single women, on the other hand, stay healthy despite not getting married. They tend to have “good social networks” with people they can turn to when they need help.)
So there you have it. I’ve provided a brief discussion on the pros and cons, or should I say, the “Angst and the Happiness” of singlehood.
For many, singlehood is the way to go. It makes them happy and content to be on their own; they need the freedom, and control and having these far outweigh any potential drawbacks.
For others, they want a partner. They know that marriage is not a “magic bullet,” but feel “incomplete” without a life partner and crave for someone to share their life.
A final point:
Many single people say they are “single-at-heart.”
What does this mean?
Liz: “If you are single-at-heart,” this means single life suits you.”
Cynthia: “I think single-at-heart means you don’t aspire to live as part of a couple (married or otherwise).”
Anna: “I believe single-at-heart means I need my solitude. I need my own space.”
Misty: “Single-at-heart for me means that I find it more fulfilling to spend time on my own rather than spending it with other people.”
Are you single-at-heart?
If you get nothing else from this article, be assured that no matter what you choose—the single-life or a life partner, you can have a life of bliss!
“I like being single. I’m always there when I need me.” – Art Leo
“I love to see old women. I love wrinkles. I love gray hair.”—Alber Elbaz (Israeli fashion designer)
Seven-year-old Erica jumped, skipped, twirled, and laughed as she stormed into her grandmother’s house.
She had just returned from Disneyland with her mom, dad, and other grandparents, grandad Bill, and grandma Alice.
“Did you have a good time?” her grandmother asked.
“Yes!” exclaimed Erica.
“What did you ride?” her grandmother wanted to know.
“We rode Space Mountain, Mad Tea Party, California Screamin’ and a bunch of other things! But grandma Alice didn’t ride anything,” said Erica.
“Well, why not?” asked her grandmother.
“Because grandma Alice has gray hair!” squealed Erica.
Yes, Erica thought gray hair was the reason her grandma Alice didn’t enjoy the rides at Disneyland.
What does this funny (and real) little story say about senior women?
In the mind of this young child, at least, gray hair is viewed as a sign of aging—grandma Alice was too old and frail and couldn’t keep up, which could not be further from the truth.
Erica’s grandma Alice was only 53 years old and a very active business owner who happened not to enjoy carnivals and amusement parks.
So should grandma Alice dye her hair?
After all, as noted in one reference work, “In every age and culture, hair expresses some part of the person beneath it.”
What do you want your hair to say about you?
I believe the central message one should want their hair to convey is health and attractiveness. You want to appear vibrant.
Why does hair turn gray?
Graying doesn’t mean the hair dies. The visible portion of all hair is already dead.
Each hair on our head extends below the skin surface, and the end of that hair, which is the only living part, is called the “bulb’—that bulb functions as the hair factory.
Rapid division of cells in the bulb forms the hair, which absorbs melanin that is produced by pigment cells.
The reason hair turns gray is that the pigment cells that make melanin, a chemical that gives your hair its color, stop generating melanin, and no one knows why. But without pigment, new strands grow in lighter and take on various shades of gray, silver, and eventually white.
Scientists believe that your genes dictate how early this happens.
I knew a man, for instance, who had utterly white hair—prematurely—in his twenties!
Thus, it appears to be beyond our power to prevent graying. This fact doesn’t deter people from trying.
For instance, there are some treatments, such as melanin injection. And of course, many dyes their hair—a practice that dates back to the ancient Greeks and Romans. The ancient Egyptians used the blood of bulls to color their hair.
Hair can indicate the condition of your health.
Hair is one of the fastest growing tissues in the body, and any abnormalities in the chemistry of your body will show up in the growth structure of your hair.
Some doctors are even beginning to think that it is possible to diagnose a person’s illness by examining a strand of hair.
For instance, in infants, doctors can use blood tests and microscopic examination of the hair to diagnose Menkes Disease (Syndrome).
And you’re probably aware of how hair analyses can determine your drug use and your unique genetic code or DNA, which help the police to solve crimes.
Yes, hair analysis can be a useful tool.
Emotional stress can also affect hair. Extreme nervousness appears to disrupt the proper flow of nutrients to the scalp, thus causing hair problems.
Diet can also affect your hair. A balanced diet that includes vegetables, fruits, and not too many starches and sugars contributes to a healthy body, and in turn, healthy hair.
Consider these healthy tips:
- Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, salmon, sardines, and mackerel: help to protect you from disease and gives you what your body needs to grow hair and keep it shiny and full.
- Greek yogurt: has the vitamin B5 that helps blood flow to your scalp and hair growth.
- Leafy vegetables: spinach has vitamin A, plus iron, beta carotene, folate, and vitamin C that work for a healthy scalp and keeps your hair moisturized, so it doesn’t break.
- Tropical fruits: such as guava that has lots of vitamin C that protect your hair from breaking.
More best foods for healthy hair:
In addition to the tips listed above, here’s an additional list of the best foods for healthy hair as reported in an article by Angela Haupt, www.health.usnews.com
- Lean red meat (iron-rich; may help to regrow hair)
- Eggs (contains biotin, a B vitamin that promotes hair growth and overall scalp health)
- Bananas, beer, oats, and raisins (contain mineral silica to improve hair thickness)
- Sweet potatoes (packed with beta-carotene, which your body converts to vitamin A that nourishes your hair and skin, and protects against dull hair and dry skin)
- Beans (legumes like kidney, lentils, are iron-rich and play a role in hair maintenance and support)
- Oysters, crab, clams (zinc-rich choices to keep hair shiny and healthy)
- Vegetable oil (healthy oils like olive, peanut, safflower, sunflower; about a teaspoon a day can restore shine)
To dye or not to dye gray hair:
“Beauty is about perception, not about make-up. I think the beginning of all beauty is knowing and liking oneself. You can’t put on make-up or dress yourself, or do your hair with any sort of fun or joy if you’re doing it from a position of correction.” – Kevyn Aucoin
Not all women want to hide or cover their gray mane. Comments I’ve read recently on the Web about this topic, include:
“My gray hair is a testament to my self-love and a celebration of getting older.”
“I find it freeing to stop coloring my hair.”
“I am embracing and love the color gray.”
Some women believe gray hair makes them look glamorous and visit salons to enhance their gray.
Did you see the movie The Devil Wears Prada? Meryl Streep played a silver-haired woman who projected power and confidence! These are qualities we would think of which gray hair robs us.
Many women wanted Streep’s look and visited salons to add strategically placed silver and platinum strands placed throughout their hair.
But there are, of course, many other women who believe gray hair ages them and fight this natural progression tooth and nail.
They feel uneasy about graying.
For instance, Diane shared with a friend:
“I got a haircut so I could see more of my natural color, which is gray and brown with red highlights. I liked the gray, but there wasn’t enough of it. It made me look older, and I don’t need any help with that!”
But attitudes are changing:
According to the social media platform, Pinterest, searches of the term “going gray” have increased more than 879% in recent months.
Many middle-aged women in 2019 no longer want to be stuck in the endless six-week cycle of “hiding new growth” and coloring their hair.
Pinterest predicts that women will stop fighting the natural aging process of going gray and proudly let their silver strands shine through.
Yes, older women are beginning to embrace their gray hair that shows how they value authenticity and also speaks to their self-confidence: “I am who I am!”
The more mature women accept this beautiful transition, the more empowering for all of us. Gray hair no longer means “getting old.”
When will you ditch the dye?
Of course, it is a personal decision whether or not to grow gray gracefully. And any suggestion to go gray is a non-starter for many women (and men).
To keep dying one’s hair takes time and effort, and for some, it may cause skin problems or allergic reactions. Even if you decide to dye your graying hair, there may be a time when you will want to stop.
Hairstyling is a form of self-expression. Hair has been cut, extended, straightened, curled, colored, and variously styled to meet fashion trends, and even social and political agendas.
So what does your hair reveal about you?
If or when you decide to give up the dye, I can assure you that gray hair can look elegant and give you dignity that you never had before.
Because . . .
“Gray-headedness is a crown of beauty!”
Journal of Clinical Pathology
“I am living in hell from one day to the next. But there is nothing I can do to escape. I don’t know where I would go if I did. I feel utterly powerless, and that feeling is my prison. I entered of my own free will, I locked the door, and I threw away the key.” –Haruki Murakami
In trying to decide on a new topic of interest to Baby Boomer women (born 1946-1964), I came across a website that listed many forums just for Boomer women. I was curious and scrolled down the list that had about 55 different topics.
On the list of 55 topics, “Domestic Violence” appeared.
This topic surprised me.
Surely senior women were not, as a rule, subjected to emotional, physical, or verbal abuse from their partners.
Domestic Violence against older women would be outrageous!
After all, educated, worldly-wise, outspoken, self-assured and influential midlife and older women living now in the 21st Century understand that the trend has been toward equality between intimate partners.
The oldest woman in this cohort would be 73-years-old and the youngest 55-years-old as of the date of this article.
So were Boomer women frequent victims of domestic violence and abuse?
But then I discovered something shocking.
I clicked on the Domestic Violence forum on the website and found nine pages of comments. On only one of the nine pages, there were a total of 83,766 comments!
Yes, you read correctly.
I didn’t check the other eight pages, but if there were a similar number of comments regarding Domestic Violence that would mean an astonishing 753,894 Boomer women had something to say about the evil scourge of Domestic Violence and abuse.
I found it difficult to wrap my head around this number of comments.
Then I checked “domestic violence” on Google and found, not surprisingly 487,000,000 searches on the topic.
I knew this was a severe problem in American society (and the world) in general, but never did I imagine a high level of abuse against senior women.
However, here, I found on just one website and one forum, hundreds of thousands of older women sharing personal experiences.
I had to dig deeper.
What Is Domestic Violence and Abuse?
The National Domestic Violence Hotline definition: “Domestic Violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, psychological violence, and emotional abuse. “
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) refers to this type of violence as Intimate Partner Violence (IPV); it is a “public health problem that affects millions of Americans.”
Domestic Violence or “intimate partner violence,” can vary in frequency and severity and can intensify over time. The CDC identifies four main types of IPV: sexual violence, stalking, physical violence, and psychological aggression.
What Is Domestic Violence/Intimate Partner Violence in Later Life?
Domestic Violence in later life is when the abuser inflicts the same treatment and tactics (power and control) as described above on an older adult with whom they have an intimate relationship.
The perpetrator could include a spouse or former spouse, adult children, extended family members, or even caregivers. Any intimate persons that try to control or maintain power over the older adult, dictating what the older person can or cannot do, is guilty of domestic “violence” and “abuse.”
What Is the Distinction Between Domestic /Intimate Partner Violence and Elder Abuse?
The distinction between Domestic Violence and elder abuse remain vague and blurred because though managed by different agencies, they use the terms interchangeably.
Elder abuse (outside of nursing homes, assisted living, and other facilities) includes physical, sexual, emotional abuse, and financial exploitation. Elder abuse also could consist of the mean neglect and abandonment of the older person.
Domestic Violence would include physical abuse, the threat of bodily harm, unlawful imprisonment, harassment, stalking, intimidation, and interference with personal liberty. Financial damage is also present.
Reported cases of elder abuse fall under the purview of Adult Protective Services (APS), while the Domestic Violence (DV) program manages programs that primarily focus on younger women.
Though each system operates independently, neither clearly distinguish elder abuse from Domestic Violence. The two systems also use different language to identify these women: APS calls them “victims,” and DV calls abused women “survivors.”
These distinctions could impact the level of services the abused woman receives.
So how a woman is designated and what assistance she is entitled (e.g., crisis intervention, safety planning, shelters, and peer support groups) depends on which system she enters.
The agencies often factor in her age when they admit a woman to either system. A woman over 50, for instance, is commonly referred to the APS.
Also, any frail woman unable to speak up for her needs would more than likely fall under the elder abuse (APS) category, but not always.
However, women capable of expressing their own needs would possibly enter the DV programs.
Because of the intersection between elder abuse and Domestic Violence, researchers suggest that Domestic Violence enters the realm of elder abuse once a woman reaches the age of 60, and therefore should use the term, “abuse in later life.”
The Illinois Department on Aging uses the term “domestic violence grown old” when describing the domestic abuse of older women.
Who Are the Domestic Violence Abusers in Later Life?
There is no standard definition. As mentioned earlier, while the majority reported the spouse or domestic/intimate partner as the abuser in later life, researchers have found that some states include other family members as perpetrators of Domestic Violence, such as adult children—and even in some cases caregivers.
The CDC characterizes an “intimate partner” as anyone with emotional connectedness or regular ongoing physical contact with the older woman, which would include adult children and caregivers.
Here again, the fact that there is no standard definition for abusers in later life means that older women risk not getting referred to the correct system (APS or DV) and therefore receiving the quality services they deserve.
What Agency Does What?
Domestic Violence programs (DV), would more likely have the training, skills, and procedures in place to help older victims of domestic abuse.
Elder abuse services (APS) would include assisting and protecting older women with diminished capacity and unable to articulate their needs. Elder abuse is APS’s specialty.
Bottom line, both service systems need to partner—collaborate (joint training, public education, domestic violence programs, and new policies) to meet the older woman’s needs. It should not be an either-or situation.
Inappropriate referrals could potentially lead to uncertain outcomes for older women.
What Causes Domestic Violence?
- Family background. Young men who witness their fathers beating their mothers are often conditioned to believe that men must control women. To exercise this control, they resort to scaring, hurting, and demeaning women.
- Stress. Unemployment, moving, illness, financial problems bring on anxiety. Raising a family also means high pressure in many cases. So what happens? Conflict, violence, and blows.
- A Wrong view of women. Different cultures have different aspects of a woman’s role in the family. In some lands, men are trained to believe that they are superior to women and therefore have the right and the “duty” to pummel them.
- Low self-esteem. Would a true “man” inflict violence on a physically weaker woman? I don’t think so. A confident man of strong moral character would act just the opposite and show consideration and compassion for more vulnerable and more defenseless women.
- Alcohol. Many believe that alcohol triggers abuse because this substance decreases control over emotions (such as stress) and raises the potential for acting on impulse. After a few drinks and if the woman happens to say the wrong thing, she’s likely to get a slap or a fist!
- Media. Feeding on graphic violence and degradation of women on TV and in film encourages the macho image and other antisocial traits. Not just children are affected by these images, but adults as well. So what do you think, dear reader? Do you believe such media lessens or encourages domestic violence against women?
- Isolation. What has happened to the meaningful conversation within the family? What about spending time with other close relatives and friends? Social interactions usually balance or act as a tempering force against wrong and selfish thinking.
What Are the Statistics?
Statistics for 2018: The National Domestic Violence Hotline statistics for Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) affects more than 10 million people in the U.S. each year, which means that on average, 20 people every minute are victims of IPV.
On an average day in the United States, there are more than 20,000 phone calls to domestic violence hotlines across the country.
An estimated 1 in 3 women have experienced some form of IPV, and women between the ages of 18-24 are most commonly abused by an intimate partner, according to National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV).
However, in The Encyclopedia of Adulthood and Aging, John Wiley & Sons, Inc. published a 2016 report discussed how little consensus there is about widespread IPV among older women. The reasons include:
- Reports often omit older women due to statistical unreliability.
- Boundaries blur between elder abuse and domestic violence.
- Researchers and professionals use different data collection and analysis that result in different profiles of older women and IPV.
The Wiley & Sons report also referred to a 2007 study that revealed the lifetime prevalence of IPV for women aged 65 years and older to be 26.5% with 18.4% of older women experiencing physical or sexual abuse and 23.9% suffering non physical injury.
And according to the article, “Intimate Partner Violence in Older Women: What Home Healthcare Clinicians Should Know” (2010), there are few IPV statistics regarding older women because reports often omit these women from reports due to statistical unreliability.
The statistical unreliability concerning older women could be due in part to various societal barriers:
- Clergy and counselors are trying to “save” a couple’s marriage.
- Older women have values, cultural, and religious beliefs that make them reluctant to report IPV; they love and want to protect their abuser and believe he will change.
- Senior women feel shame and embarrassment and therefore, will not report the abuse.
- Fear: they could be killed, made homeless, left alone to fend for themselves, or even placed in a nursing home if they report the abuser.
- Lack of information. Many older women have less access to services and information tailored to them, and resources such as transportation and safety planning than younger women.
- Not all older women are frail and mentally incompetent, yet many do not receive the respect they deserve due to their age.
In a 2005 report by the National Domestic Violence Hotline, 3.5% of the callers were from people older than age 55.
A 2003 report estimated that 13,000 women in the United States over age 55 reported incidents of IPV.
What Can Be Done to Prevent Domestic Violence Against Older Women?
- Seniors, professionals, caregivers, and the public must receive training and make aware of the scourge of abuse against older women in all its forms: physical, emotional, and verbal and recognize the warning signs.
- Seek professional help at the first signs, such as alcohol concerns, depression, or drugs in the home so older women can stay safe.
- Strengthen safety networks and implement prevention strategies for individuals and families.
- Attend support groups for partners and learning about domestic violence services.
- Download: CDC has developed a technical package, Preventing Intimate Partner Violence across the Lifespan: A Technical Package of Programs, Policy, and Practices[4.52 MB]to help states and communities prioritize efforts to prevent intimate partner violence. A technical package is a collection of strategies that represent the best available evidence to prevent or reduce public health problems such as violence.
What Do Senior Women Need Right Now?
The United Nations (2013) Neglect, Abuse, and Violence against Older Women Division for Social Policy and Development Report:
Interventions suited for older women’s needs:
- Protections for older women caregivers of abusive men (sometimes these men are frail and rely on the older woman for support and everyday living, but abusive nonetheless)
- Services for older women with care needs
- Legal services for older women victims of abuse
- Support groups for older women victims of abuse
- Domestic Violence shelters for older women victims of abuse
- Training and education on abuse in later life for professionals and students
- Interventions aimed at perpetrators
- National legislative approaches
The United Nations (2013) also found that women who were retired had a higher probability of abuse compared with those who were still working because a woman’s financial dependence on her partner and isolation are everyday experiences shared by older abused women.
How Can You Help?
If you or someone you know is a victim of Domestic Violence, call The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or visit their website to chat online 24/7/
Domestic Violence in later life occurs all too often when a person uses his power and control to inflict physical, sexual, emotional, or financial exploitation upon a defenseless older adult woman with whom they have an ongoing relationship.
Based on the above statistics, intimate partner violence (IPV) against Boomer and older women appears to be among the least reported of crimes—in part because many people view such violence as a social ill, or a private matter, not a crime.
These perpetrators could be spouses, former spouses, partners, adult children, extended family, and in some cases caregivers.
But no matter, in all of these relationships, the abuser has in effect turned what should be a loving and peaceful home into a “cage” meant to restrain, confine, and eventually destroy the soul and kill the spirit of the beautiful senior woman who resides there.
This violence is indeed “the dark side of family life.”
Older women deserve a violence-free life.
We must put a stop to IPV or battering of older women at once!!
“One’s dignity may be assaulted and vandalized, but it can never be taken away unless it is surrendered.”—Michael J. Fox
National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, CDC
National Domestic Violence Hotline (https://www.thehotline.org)
U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Violence Against Women (https://www.justice.gov/ovw)
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (https://ncadv.org)
Domestic Violence (Intimate Partner Violence of Battering)
National Organization for Women (www.NOW.org)
United Nations 2013 (www.un.org/en/
“Domestic Violence or Elder Abuse: Why It Matters for Older Women”
Loyola University Chicago, Loyola eCommons (2010)
The Encyclopedia of Adulthood and Aging Report (2016)
United Nations 2013 (www.un.org/en/
Ageless Alliance: www.agelessalliance.org
American Bar Association Commission on Law and Aging: www.americanbar.org/groups/law_aging.html
Eldercare Locator: www.eldercare.gov
The Elder Justice Coalition (EJC): www.elderjusticecoalition.com
National Association of Agencies on Aging (N4A): www.n4a.org
National Center on Elder Abuse (https://ncea.acl.gov/
National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (NCPEA): www.preventelderabuse.org
Older Women’s League (OWL): www.owl-national.org
Pick out your most comfortable chair. Sit down, loosen your skirt or trousers, slip out of your shoes, and close your eyes.
Now imagine your feet dangling in the cold, clear, blue waters or a mountain lake. Smell the aroma of nearby flowers. Hear the happy songs of carefree birds. Feel the stimulation of fresh mountain air. For a few minutes eliminate, as far as possible, remove all other thoughts, and with this peaceful scene in mind, meditate; focus your mind in silence.
Feel better? More relaxed?
WHO of us does not need to relax? According to one authority, 70 percent of the people sitting in doctors’ waiting rooms are sick simply because they no longer can cope with life’s pressure.
Also, new studies indicate how stress and other emotions that affect the body’s immune responses and vital functions are responsible for many human ailments. Medical science is finding that the mind-body link plays more of a role in human health than previously believed and, therefore, has given a new name to the branch of medical research that investigates this mechanism. It’s called psychoneuroimmunology.
Commenting on the brain’s physiological role, Dr. George F. Solomon of the University of California says: “Mind and body are inseparable. The brain influences all sorts of physiological processes that were once thought not to be centrally regulated.
A doctor who can help his patients to relax is serving their best interests. And he can make any number of suggestions on how to relax.
Some of these include TM (transcendental meditation) techniques and also Yoga or Zen. Autogenic training is another treatment recommended in some countries. But I caution you to get the facts before trying any of these techniques and understand how they differ from “normal” meditation.
Meditation: There Is More to It Than You Think
“Half an hour’s meditation each day is essential, except when you are busy. Then a full hour is needed.” –Saint Francis de Sales
What does “meditation” mean to you? If you follow the teachings of some Eastern religions, you may believe that it is something that brings greater clarity of thought or personal enlightenment. Meditation practiced in Buddhism encourages emptying the mind of all thought. Other forms of meditation are said to help fill your mind with “universal truths of wisdom.”
And some believe meditation is merely daydreaming.
According to one dictionary, to meditate is “to think in a thoughtful or leisurely manner. It requires a serious and extended undistracted period of concentration.”
The claims made for specific meditation techniques are quite attractive: to deepen our understanding of oneself, to replace negative tendencies and bad habits with more positive ones, to overcome anxieties and fears, and yes, even to improve health.
In this regard, notice what’s pointed out in a recent article on WebMd.com:
“The Top Five Benefits of Meditation: 5) does your body good, lowers blood pressure; 4) sharpens the mind; 3) increases serotonin known as the ‘happy drug’; 2) improves sleep, and 1) reduces stress.”
If you would like more information on what is purported to be health benefits, you will find many short, 1-minute videos of interest on WebMd.com. Go to: www.webmd.com/balance/video/truth-about-meditation
Also on this page, you will find an interesting article entitled: “Value of Meditation for Health Unproven.” Apparently, according to this article, studies were not high enough quality to prove or disprove the value of meditation as a treatment.”
But there is more to meditation—
I meditate for spiritual reasons; if I should experience less stress and feel more relaxed as a result of meditating, this is a side benefit. For me, meditating is not removing negative thoughts, but allows me to consider spiritual answers to my problems. Meditating also will enable me to express gratitude. This form of meditation helps me to deal successfully with anxieties of day-to-day life. I feel contented.
There are many reasons to engage in meditation, that is, deep, concentrated thinking about important things. For instance, it is vital to reflect on past experiences, ponder over current matters, and thoughtfully contemplate our future.
But above all, meditation will bring us the greatest enlightenment if our thoughts are on our Creator and the blessings we experience every day for which we are thankful.
Bottom line: meditation is good for you. It can make you feel more peaceful and relaxed. Through meditation, you have a sense of well-being and contentment. And if it also happens to improve your health, this is awesome!
“By turning your eyes to God in meditation, your whole soul will be filled with God. Begin all your prayers in the presence of God.” – Saint Frances de Sales
“Money, if it does not bring you happiness, will at least help you be miserable in comfort.”—Helen Gurley Brown
As a Boomer woman, you are living longer—much longer.
In one study, 2 out of 5 older women surveyed said that they expect to live to age 90+. They are concerned about affording health care and long-term care services in later life, and money to support them day-to-day.
Joyce, a 58-year-old widow, expressed, “Living with my chronically ill husband for the last 5 years has been the hardest thing I have ever done! Now that my husband, the man I loved, passed away, I’m dealing with grief, physical problems, and financial pressures. I think I’m ready to have a nervous breakdown.”
Though Joyce had worked in a professional setting for many years and earned good money, when her husband became ill she had first to downsize her job to part-time, and months later resign altogether.
Joyce joined the 40 million caregivers in America, of which 60% are women and, end-of-life care and related expenses ate through their savings.
By leaving the workforce early, she figured she lost about $150,000 in wages, plus social security benefits.
Regrettably, when her husband was alive and healthy, Joyce was not involved in the family finances or in identifying common goals for the future.
When it came to investing in growth assets, she was clueless.
Joyce will undoubtedly begin to look for more employment, provided her health holds up. At age 58, she is a “young” Boomer. If she can’t find a new job, perhaps she will try entrepreneurship.
But consider the daily pressures she could experience in the meantime.
Don’t let this be your life story.
To help mitigate a similar situation in your life, why not begin taking the following 5 steps.
What You Can Do
- Act now! Fight procrastination and do nothing. Force yourself to get moving. Realize you’re the boss! You’re in charge of your financial future.
- Gain money knowledge. Gather information. Educate yourself. Focus on women’s issues, paying particular to the risks you face should you become single. Check out diverse sources and do not rely on any one source. Think critically about what you find; ask questions of yourself and others. Research.
- Consult a financial planner. Meet with someone who is skilled and knowledgeable in the concerns of women.
- Calculate income and expenses. One study revealed that only one in four women (25%) do the math on this. Most women have no clear picture of what they’ll face when it comes to health costs, let alone housing, food, clothing, transportation, and so forth. (A good financial planner will help you with this.)
- Stay on budget. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), 87% of those in poverty in America are women. And 25% of widows are poor a mere two months after their husband’s death.
It’s not too late.
Perhaps you’ll come to agree with Lillian Day on the importance of securing your financial future: “Money isn’t everything, your health is the other ten percent.”
Begin right now, today to “Ensure a Financially Healthy Future”!
Report: The MetLife Study of Women, Retirement and Extra-Long Life: Implications for Planning (2011)
“Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.” –Plato
When my husband was in good health, he enjoyed listening to the 24/7 news cycle. He wanted to keep informed about world events.
After he became ill and was bedridden, I continued this practice for him and kept the TV on all day.
However, as his illness advanced to the point I had to place him in hospice at home, I began to notice that he would become agitated by what he heard on TV, and would mutter about war and violence and the dangers of world war.
I mentioned this to the hospice nurse, and she suggested I not play the news channel, but instead soft music.
My husband, himself a musician, responded wonderfully. The soft melodies relaxed him.
Music and the Brain
Music evokes spontaneous reactions from listeners because, as some suggest, language and logic are predominately functions of the left side of the brain, while music is on the right side of the brain, which deals mainly with feelings and emotions.
It all started in the womb, listening to our mother’s heartbeat. Just think of our heart rate.
So perhaps it’s no coincidence that most people appear to prefer musical tempo ranges between 70 and 100 beats per minute—the same range as the average heart rate of a healthy adult.
There’s great musical variety, a wide range of instruments, and the sounds and melodies they produce that evoke deep emotions and feelings. According to Clive E. Robbins of the Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy Center in New York, “music speaks to the entire human being.”
What Is Music Therapy?
According to the American Music Therapy Association, Music Therapy is “the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program.” (American Music Therapy Association definition, 2005)
However, music therapy is as old as our written knowledge of music. Pythagoras (a Greek philosopher; born 570BC), is known as the Father of Mathematics, Geometry, and Music; he created the musical intervals and taught that one could heal using sound.
Pythagoras applied the principles of Harmonics to everything from music, to art, to architecture, to healing.
Healing Benefits of Music
But you don’t need a licensed therapist to benefit from listening to, discussing, and moving to music to help you feel better.
The use of music can be quite diverse. Music can elicit and maintain human health and well-being. Music can help patients during surgery. Some hospitals pipe music into intensive care units. Music is used to soothe premature babies.
Music reduces anxiety.
As I mentioned earlier, my husband, when well, was in the habit of watching the political news, but at a certain point became disturbed emotionally.
Even though he couldn’t communicate in words what he liked, I could tell by his facial expression, no frowns in his forehead, and so forth, that the music caused him to feel calm and less tense.
Music can also produce reductions in stress hormone levels and is thus one of the biggest stress relievers.
According to WebMD, music has many benefits for Alzheimer’s patients by:
- soothing an agitated person
- sparking memories
- engaging the mind even in the diseases later stages
- improving eating in some cases
Why Should You Use Music Therapy?
Consider this experience from a hospital in Port Townsend, Washington:
“The effects of music in the operating room on 25 different patients were studied by music therapist Helen Lindquist Bonny and nurse anesthetist Noreen McCarron. Music instead of sedation was used to quash the sounds within the operating room that often create anxiety before an operation. Melodious music reduced blood pressure and heart rates and also cut by half the sedatives needed to calm patients.”
Further, according to nurse McCarron, “The soothing effect of music is equivalent to 2.5 mg of Valium. Patients listening to music generally feel better after their operation and could go home sooner.”
A comparable study in the Federal Republic of Germany showed a similar reduction. “Classical music, as well as popular music from the 40’s and 50’s, with even tempos and rhythms were used. We shunned wild, raucous sounds.”
Based on these experiences and others, music therapy does work. Music can reduce muscle tension, help in promoting relaxation, promote the release of the all-important endorphins—a natural painkiller.
And as I have learned from personal experience, once I turned off the national news and turned on soothing music for my husband, the anxious frowns in his forehead turned to pleasant smiles on his face.
If you are interested in finding a music therapist, check with local schools or hospitals.
For my husband, hospice offered music therapy as part of his care. Or, as discussed in this article, you can play soothing music in your loved one’s room to significant effect.
Yes, music can be good medicine!