People older than 65 now compromise a higher bulk of the population due to better medical care, improved diet and increasing interest in physical fitness, more people are reaching the ages of 65, 75 and older in excellent health.
Normal aging is a gradual process that brings some changes; slower reflexes, dimmer eyesight and hearing, decreased stamina. But the more extreme debilities that we associate with old age are the result of disease, abuse of the body by improper diet or use of alcohol and cigarettes and failure to keep physically and mentally active. However, elderly men face far more serious social and health consequences than women brought about by the differences in their contact patterns.
In a study about the social world and healthy lifestyles of older men in the UK (Arber, 2002) found that elderly men tend to retain smaller social networks which are limited to their offspring and have close contact with them than women who generally have good relationships with neighbors, friends and families. Due to the limited social contacts of elderly men, they are more prone to loneliness and eventually would lead to solitary life. This has contributed to the negative social perception of the public to old men who are thought of as unfriendly, easily crossed and hates young children. Thus, old men are often not treated with respect and reverence that they should deserve from the community and society. Moreover, they usually feel that they have less importance in the community and would lead to diminished self-esteem and ultimately to depression.
While women often have close social networks and most communities have resources for elderly women. Thus, adjustment to old age for women is generally smoother than for men. Women who have social contacts are often have positive dispositions, have support groups that help them deal with the social hazards of old age.Women are far more likely to contact a health practitioner in order to take care of their health and promote longer life, thus they are more receptive to medical intervention and health care. Moreover, they held positive views on aging and health conditions. On the other hand men report that they rarely went to a doctor when required to do so or even for regular check-ups even in they have undergone serious medical conditions. This may lead to a worsening of the existing illness or often to complications that may be too difficult to treat and poses a threat to the well being of the individual.
Moreover, old men generally feel that going to the doctor for consultation and treatment is a sign of weakness and threatens their masculinity and pride.As reported by studies on the elderly, women outlive men more often than not, thus our community is more geared towards answering the needs and taking care of elderly women than men. Thus, the elderly men are left out and often have limited social contacts because the social groups and organizations, or services for the elderly are feminized. It is necessary for elderly people to have a strong social support group and that they have to be taken cared of in terms of their health, but at the moment, elderly men are not given the full attention of policy makers and the community.