A new study suggests that growing old has been toppled from its number one spot as the biggest fear among aging, lower income women. The greatest fear that this group now face is the threat of violence, according to researchers at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT).
The study shows that lower income women over 50 have a desire to protect themselves against what they perceive to be growing instances of violence against the elderly. "It is clear that as women grow into the older years, they experience increased feelings of vulnerability," says Jan Lovie-Kitchin, from QUT's Faculty of Health. "They could also feel vulnerable because of their limited finances and lack of knowledge which might force them to depend on people they don't necessarily trust."
The researchers say that feelings of progressive powerlessness fuel feelings of vulnerability, which in turn leads to greater social isolation. "Older women might experience feelings of exposure to danger because of their smaller size and lesser strength," said Lovie-Kitchin. "Fear of violence needs to be recognized as a barrier to older people's social connectedness and the health and well-being of older women specifically," she added.
According to the study, women's fears are compounded and reinforced by unbalanced television media reports of violence against the elderly. "There needs to be recognition of the influence of media in generating feelings of exposure to danger due to age," said Lovie-Kitchin. "Sensationalized crimes in the media are often the only form of contact with the outside environment for many older and isolated people and can heighten their sense of defenselessness."
Source: Queensland University of Technology