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Gender and Aging: Intersections and International Women’s Day

Today is International Women’s Day. This year, the International Women’s Day campaign theme is “Pledge for Parity,” which recognizes the ongoing inequality women face across the globe. The issues older women face stem from intersections of social, health, and economic forces. Below, I discuss hurdles common to older women in our community and offer helpful responses.

So what struggles does SHE face?

Social: Women have a longer life expectancy than men by at least 5 years. Consequently, a spouse’s death or children moving away can leave older women without social support. The increasing inability to get around on their own can also bar female seniors from participating in social activities. These factors, coupled with the possibility of new health issues or the onset of disability, can lead to feelings of loneliness and depression.

Health: As women age they are at greater risk for new chronic health and disabling conditions. These conditions often limit mobility and make it harder to exercise, cook at home, and continue house cleaning and yard work.

Economic: Women aging in America are also at a higher risk for economic insecurity. They are less likely to receive a personal pension and often rely on Social Security benefits. When spouses die many women find themselves without the same supplementary income or health care benefits.

And what can we do to HELP the older women in our lives?

Healthy, reliable food options, such as home delivered meal programs and local nutrition sites, are needed. For example, Seabury manages 17 nutrition sites in DC’s Ward 5 and 6 that provide hot meals daily to older adults; likewise, Seabury also coordinates home delivered meals to older adults in DC. Click here to volunteer at a local nutrition site.

Effort is essential. It’s important that we appeal for legislation aiding older women in our communities. The DC Senior Advisory Coalition coordinates local advocacy efforts for public policy impacting older adults. Learn more about the DCSAC and get involved through their website.

Lend a hand. Support is necessary! Whether it’s giving someone a ride, helping them clean their home, taking out their garbage, or simply taking time to socialize, every action is important. Seabury’s Age-In-Place® program is one such way you can make a difference.

Prevention is best. Access to good exercise programs promotes better mobility and strength which can help hinder dangerous falls. Additionally, access to financial planning services can aid budgeting and money management. Seabury’s Care Managers can assist with finding a money management service.

Dylan Mulvey served as a Volunteer Coordinator for Seabury’s Home First Residences and Age-In-Place® program. To learn more about volunteering with Seabury’s Age-In-Place®, email or call 202-635-9384. See the entire Age-In-Place® team and learn more about their work on Seabury’s website.


Trends in Health Status and Health Care Use Among Older Women

Elderly Women: A Diverse and Growing Population

Older Women Struggle to Make Ends Meet

A Snapshot of the Elderly Population in Washington DC

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