The population of industrialized nations is progressively aging, with Italy having one of the most elderly populations in the world. Natural aging may be associated with physical and cognitive impairments, often straining public resources. The present study aims to investigate the influence of gender on wellness of the nonagenarians. We evaluated quality of life among nonagenarians living in the Mugello area, an Italian location with a large population of individuals > 90 years, using the Health Survey Scoring SF-12. The 15-item Geriatric Depression Scale and Basic and Instrumental Activity of Daily Living scales were also assessed. The Mini-Mental State Examination was used to evaluate the cognitive status. In the current survey, women outnumbered men 2.7:1 confirming their higher longevity. However, on the basis of SF-12 scores, nonagenarian women felt worse than men, both physically (mean: women = 41.8 vs men = 44.4, p = 0.004) and mentally (mean: women = 46.7 vs men =48.5, p = 0.034), and their depression rates were higher: considering a General Depression Scale score ≥ 5 as a possible depression status; 37.5% of men reported depression vs. 48.5% of women (p = 0.021). Significant differences were observed also in daily activities, both basic (median: woman = 3 vs men = 5, p < 0.001) and instrumental (median woman = 1 vs me = 3, p < 0.001). Despite prior reports showing that women perform better than men in aging, our study confirms data reported in most national and European surveys: women live longer than men, but with poorer quality of life. The current study confirms the phenomenon known as the "male-female health-survival paradox."
- Quality of life