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Healthy ageing factors are different for men and women

Photo: Healthy ageing factors are different for men and women
What makes a healthy ageing journey? New research from the RDNS Institute and Australian National University suggests the answer might be different for men and women.

The research, based on the Melbourne Longitudinal Studies in Healthy Ageing program and published this year in Ageing & Society, will inform the development of targeted health promotion materials for older men.

It identified three groups of older people – those who entered the study in good health and stayed in good health over the 16-year project, those who entered in good health but whose health deteriorated during the research period, and those who entered in poor health and remained in poor health.

“Most participants in our study – 84.2 per cent of women and 77.3 per cent of men – age by initially experiencing positive health and wellbeing,” RDNS Institute director Colette Browning said.
“However there were significant gender differences in ageing trajectories.

“Men were slightly but significantly more likely than women to belong to the stable poor group (15.8 per cent women and 22.7 per cent men)– entering the study in poor health and remaining in poor health.

“But women in this group had a poorer trajectory than men. None of the women identified as stable poor at the baseline improved over the 16 years, whereas the men in this group had a 20 per cent chance of improving.”

Professor Browning said the findings had implications for providing health promotion services that would help people transition from ageing poorly to ageing well.

“For men, interventions around prevention of chronic illness in midlife, smoking, nutrition and social support are important,” she said.

For women, restful sleep was a predictor of stable good health across the 16 years.

For both men and women, the number of medical conditions they had was a significant predictor of outcomes.

Men’s Health Week, from June 12-18, will focus on the theme Healthy Mind, Healthy Body – Keeping the Balance.

Find details about local events at http://www.menshealthweek.org.au/en/default.aspx

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