Therefore, the image of the older woman as unhealthy or hypochondriacal is a myth.
In addition to the view that older women are physically unhealthy, older women have been found to be diagnosed with psychological problems 3 to 4 times more often than men (Beeson, 1975).
Hultsch and Deutsch (1981) state, However, that the factor having the greatest impact on sexual activity in old age is the availability of a socially approved and sexually capable partner.
Sexual interest and ability generally do not decrease with age for women. Interestingly, older men are perceived as being healthier than older women (Riley & Foner, 1968) even though, on the average, women live seven years longer than men. However, on measures of perceived physical health, no differences have been found between old men and women or between an older and a younger population (Ross, Tait, Brandeberry, Grossberg, & Nakra, 1986). found that older women rated themselves as having greater body competency than either older men or young adults, both male and female.
With a poverty line for seniors of 437.91 per month) in 1990, it is clear that many women live near or below the poverty line.
In addition, as female, women continue to experience sexism during old age and are placed, thus, in double jeopardy.
Interestingly, women's self image shows greater improvement with age as compared to men (Clark & Anderson, 1967).
This may represent an ageist bias within psychology and psychiatry.
It has been hypothesized that the large number of women seeking psychological support may be a consequence of increased social stress on the older woman.