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Single women are healthier and happier than married women

Single women are healthier and happier than married women

Mirror health expert Dr Miriam Stoppard says widows may suffer less stress and physical frailty than women whose husbands are still alive

A few weeks ago, I received a reader’s letter saying she was enjoying widowhood.

This didn’t surprise me because single women as a whole are healthier and happier than married women.

Some really interesting research from Italy on widows makes me return to the subject, if only because the three million widows in England and Wales will be intrigued to hear about it.

The new study shows that as Italian widows age they have better lives than wives.

Italian women are expected to live, on average, five years longer than Italian men – about the same as here.

This inevitably makes for a lot of widows. As of 2015, there were 3,782,095 widows in Italy versus 741,760 widowers.

But a new study suggests that widows suffer less stress and physical frailty than women whose husbands are still alive.

Lead researcher Caterina Trevisan at the University of Padua in Italy said the presence of a husband made women “more likely to feel stressed and find their role restrictive and frustrating”.

She added: “Since women generally have a longer lifespan than men, married women may also suffer from the effects of caregiver burden, since they often devote themselves to caring for their husband in later life.”

Dr Trevisan also pointed out there’s a lower risk of ­depression in unmarried women.

Single women also have less anxiety, greater job satisfaction and higher activity levels at work.

They also maintained stronger relationships with family or friends.

Finally, widows cope better than widowers with the stress deriving from the loss of a partner and widowhood.

Many studies have shown that women are less vulnerable to depression than men in widowhood, probably because they have greater coping resources and are better able to express their emotions.

Angry mother and daughter

Widows also maintained stronger relationships with family or friends

Trevisan believes women tend to be independent as they age.

Left alone, women can take care of themselves better than men, especially when it comes to people who were over 65 in 1995.

Managing the family’s social life makes them less likely to be isolated after grieving for their deceased husbands.

On the other hand, women who remain married and got older, “often have an assistance role towards their husbands” and this can be wearing.

Losing their husbands relieves them of this “burden” which puts them in better condition than their married peers.

Elderly spinsters were also more ­physically robust and less likely to suffer weight loss and exhaustion than women who were married
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