Tuesday, April 26, 2011

W is for Widowhood Research and How I Feel About it

Recent research on widowhood has gotten a lot of press. If you're a widow, you could hardly have missed it. Results of a recent study suggest that widows who don't remarry have a higher risk of developing dementia than widows who do.

That study, as you might expect, really upset me. After five plus years as a widow, I have no remarriage on the horizon. Is there a deadline? If you remarry ten years after widowhood, can you still avoid dementia or is it too late?

On the other hand, I wonder if the study is flawed. What was the age of the widows who participated? Younger widows are more likely to remarry; there is a larger pool of available men. Widows in their 80s are, I would imagine, unlikely to remarry. Many widows find male companions and that's fine. They don't feel a need to remarry.

Still, the idea of dementia haunts me. Is it worse to deteriorate from a physical disease or to lose your mind?

My mother had severe dementia caused by small strokes. At first she repeated, then she became illogically cranky, then paranoid, then she gradually forgot everything. What was it like to wake up day after day, not knowing where she was or later, who she was? What did she think about? Did she think at all?

One day we were in the car and she turned to look at me. She patted the passenger seat and said, "Twenty-five years and you'll be sitting here." It's been twenty-two years since I heard that, and it still gives me chills.

Should I work harder at finding a husband...or just take my chances and figure that life is what it is.


Bella said... [Reply to comment]

Thelma, I think you should enjoy life and figure it out as it comes. Studies are never definitive and like you mentioned, the information provided isn't concrete. Was there a control group? I would love to know how the widows in that group did! In any case, sometimes love knocks on our door, and age doesn't make a difference. :)

Sarah Allen said... [Reply to comment]

Interesting. I can definitely see some flaws in this study. I agree with Bella, its important to just live life to the fullest.

Sarah Allen
(my creative writing blog)

V. Furnas said... [Reply to comment]

I hadn't seen that. I think there are some obvious flaws here.

Widow in the Middle said... [Reply to comment]

Missed this one so thank you for posting about it. I still wish there was more out there for the "seasoned" widow beyond what happens in the first year, e.g., what are the long-term effects of grief/loss or can they even be measured? I try not to worry about these studies. All of us could end up getting run over by a bus tomorrow is my attitude. I also just came across something that disputed that long-held belief that marriage makes people healthier. Seems like you can find a rhyme or reason to prove anything.

Doreen McGettigan said... [Reply to comment]

I think you should just be you and if a man shows up; well then it is meant to be. I believe (I work with dementia patients) it is depression and then lazy mind that sets widows up for dementia. You seem to be putting your mind and body to very good use and should be very proud of your accomplishments. Stay away from aluminum too. (another study on dementia).
It is very nice to meet you and I thank you for your kind comment and for following me.
Have a blessed evening.

Boo said... [Reply to comment]

There is also research which shows that smoking can help prevent alzheimers disease. But it doesn't mention that smoking can contribute to risk of heart attacks or lung cancer etc.

Just as re-marrying doesn't necessarily guarantee against alzheimers. Re-marrying might even lead to further heartbreak if the reality of it doesn't match up to your dream of it ... or ...

I think that all these studies use statistics to prove something - ONE thing. So the result is never really in context of the bigger picture as it were.

A wise person once told me (he is a statistician!), "You can prove ANYTHING with statistics."

Try not to focus on this my friend.

That corgi :) said... [Reply to comment]

first time visiting your blog; interesting research; speaking from "experience", my mom was a widow for 46 years (my dad died after they were only married for 6 years and she never remarried) and when she died at 85 years old, she was sharp as a tack. Hubby's parents have been married for 63 years, both still alive, and she has dementia.....

so I don't put much stock in that research......

you got a nice blog here, enjoyed looking at some of your A-Z challenge entries, liked the Scrabble one, always a fun game to play!


Retired Knitter said... [Reply to comment]

Be careful about studies. This year that say one thing and the next year they say the opposite.

Just live life and deal with it day to day.


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