The role of gender in very old age: Profiles of functioning and everyday life patterns

Older men and women have different life contexts as a function of differential longevity and sociostructural opportunities over the life course. The question is whether gender-related differences also occur in psychological and everyday functioning in older adults. Examined were 258 men and 258 women between the ages of 70 and 103 years (M = 85 years), participants in the Berlin Aging Study. Significant gender differences were observed in 13 of 28 aspects of personality, social relationships, everyday activity patterns, and reported well-being. Cluster analysis identified 11 subgroups whose profiles of life conditions and health and psychological functioning could be categorized as more or less desirable (functional). The relative risk of a less desirable profile was 1.6 times higher for women than for men. For older adults, gender as a variable carries differences in physical frailty and life conditions that likely have consequences for psychological functioning. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2007 APA, all rights reserved) (from the journal abstract)