Night of the living old men …

Dun-dun-duhn! In the New York Times, professor Stephanie Coontz ponders over the implications of what is apparently an inevitable growth in the number of old men in this country. It appears that they’re living longer, eating healthier, exercising – and are much less like Mad Men’s Don Draper than they used to be.

It’s obviously good news for men that they are starting to catch up with women in longevity, but let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves in predicting the benefits of this convergence for the relationship prospects of older heterosexual women. The number of men 65 or older may be increasing faster than the number of their female counterparts, but there are still five million more women than men in that age group. And it remains true that older men have more opportunities than older women to repartner with someone of a younger age.

Still, I don’t see a downside to the narrowing gap in male and female life expectancy, although I suppose a woman trapped in an unhappy marriage might not find her husband’s extended lifespan very beneficial. Among unhappy couples, even a few extra minutes a day with one’s spouse raises blood pressure and lowers immune functioning. So imagine the toll that extra years can take.

This is a wrinkle (pun intended, sort of) of the boomer aging phenomenon that I hadn’t really considered. Check out the comments following her story – they’re a fun read.


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