In Japan, a super-aging society, women live longer than men, and the number of elderly women living alone is increasing. For elderly women to live with a sense of purpose in life is vitality to live a healthy life. Let’s take a look at the reality of the purpose of life for elderly women.

The Reality of Purpose in Life for Elderly Women

Let’s learn from survey reports about the actual situation, such as whether or not elderly women find purpose in life and what they find purpose in life, and think about future issues.

daily life satisfaction

According to the results of the Cabinet Office’s 2014 opinion survey on the daily life of elderly people, when looking at the satisfaction level of elderly women aged 60 and over with their daily lives, they are satisfied (13.2%), Somewhat satisfied (55.9%) combined “satisfied” total 69.1%, somewhat dissatisfied (19.2%), dissatisfied (8.7%) combined “dissatisfied” total is 27.9%, indicating that approximately 70% of elderly women are satisfied with their daily lives (Graph 1, Table 1).

On the other hand, 67.3% of men said they were “satisfied” with their daily life, and 29.8% said they were “dissatisfied” (Graph 1, Table 1). Women are more likely to be satisfied with their daily lives.

Comparing the survey results of 2014 with those of 2009, the level of satisfaction with daily life has decreased for both men and women, and the percentage of dissatisfaction has increased.

woman Man
2009 2014 2009 2014
Is pleased 28.0 13.2 24.5 10.8
well satisfied 54.6 55.9 56.7 56.5
somewhat dissatisfied 12.9 19.2 13.9 22.0
dissatisfied 4.5 8.7 4.9 7.8
Don’t know/no answer 3.0 2.9

Percentage of elderly women who feel that their lives are worthwhile

To what extent do elderly women aged 60 and over feel joy and pleasure in their daily lives?

According to a survey conducted in 2014, 67.2% of respondents answered that they felt a sense of fulfillment (16.7%) and some (50.5%) felt that they had some reason for living, while 20.9% did not feel it very much. %), and 3.7% who do not feel it at all, the total of 24.6% who do not feel a sense of purpose in life (Graph 2, Table 2).

On the other hand, in the 2014 survey, 63.7% of men answered that they “feel worth living” and 29.4% answered “do not feel worth living” (Graph 2). The percentage of women who feel that their lives are worthwhile is higher.

Comparing the 2014 survey results with the 2009 survey results, the percentage of both men and women who feel that their lives are worth living has decreased, while the percentage of those who do not feel that their lives are worth living has increased

2009 and 2014 Created based on changes in the percentage of elderly women and men who feel their lives are worth living1)2 )
woman Man
2009 2014 2009 2014
feel enough 28.8 16.7 29.2 14.7
feel a little 50.5 50.5 48.5 49.0
not feeling much 15.9 20.9 18.0 25.7
not feeling at all 3.2 3.7 3.3 3.7
Don’t know/no answer 1.6 8.2 1.1 6.9

When an elderly woman finds purpose in life

Looking at the times when elderly women find their lives worthwhile, 53.1% of them said, “When eating or chatting with friends or acquaintances,” followed by “When they are enthusiastic about their hobbies or sports.” 41.3%)”, “When hanging out with family (40.9%)”, and “When traveling (34.2%)” (Graph 3, Table 3).

Looking at the times in 1996 when elderly women find their lives worthwhile, 49.0% of them answered that they were spending time with family members such as grandchildren, followed by eating or chatting with friends and acquaintances. (34.8%),” “When enthusiastic about hobbies and sports (32.1%),” and “When watching TV or listening to the radio (32.0%).”

Looking at the survey results for when elderly women feel their purpose in life, compared to 1998, in 2014, they were more likely to spend time with friends and acquaintances than when they were together with family. The ratio of “time spent spending time” and “time devoted to hobbies and sports” is high. The reason why older women value their own time more than their family’s time may be due to their growing need for self-actualization.

when elderly women find life worthwhile
1996 2014
When you are passionate about your hobbies or sports 32.1 41.3
When eating or chatting with friends or acquaintances 34.8 53.1
Time to hang out with family 49.0 40.9
while taking care of grandchildren 27.0
when you are traveling 31.3 34.2
when you’re immersed in work 24.3 20.2
When others thank you 13.5 27.0
When doing community service or community activities 7.1 12.8
when you have income 6.2 13.9
When you are focused on your studies or education 8.4 11.0
when interacting with the younger generation 8.4 10.7

Self-actualization needs of elderly women

According to a research report that tracked the post-retirement attitudes of middle-aged and elderly women in rural areas over an 11-year period, even in rural areas where there is a high rate of living with children who are married to their elderly parents, “living with children’s families” and “economy in retirement”

The traditional attitudes such as “I depend on my children for a normal life” and “I will have my eldest son’s wife take care of me when I become disabled” are declining, and “I will not be able to live with my children because my husband will die before me.

It has been shown that there is a growing awareness of separation from family and self-discipline, such as “living alone as long as possible” and “making a living by working while healthy”4 ) .

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which divides human needs into five levels, includes the first level of physiological needs, the second level of safety needs, the third level of belonging and love needs, the fourth level of respect and approval needs, The 5th level of self-actualization needs are stratified, and when the lower-order needs are satisfied, the higher-order needs are reached5 ) .

Older people today are living longer and healthier than in the past. The convenience of life has improved, and it has become a society where it is easy to obtain economic stability, and it has become possible to have leeway in living time. In addition, the number of services that can be used is increasing due to the enhancement of medical and nursing care, making it easier to reduce anxiety about the future.

Today’s environment is one in which lower-order needs are easily satisfied, and an elderly woman who has continued to live a home-centered life in her life stage turns her attention to the fulfillment of her own life, triggered by the departure of her parents-in-law and the departure of her child.

You will have time. Higher-level needs such as “ties with family and society,” “recognition with society, communities, and others,” and “desire for self-actualization to improve oneself” are strengthened among elderly women. It is possible.

Elderly women’s desire for self-actualization and purpose in life

Self-actualization needs are self-improvement, and participation in social activities and lifelong learning are examples of self-actualization needs.

According to a research study on the awareness and actual situation of lifelong learning among middle-aged and older people, the ratio of elderly men aged 60 and over who are engaged in lifelong learning is 38.9% and 42.1% for elderly women, which is 3.2% higher for women. I’m here. The motives for learning were “I want to have a fulfilling life after retirement (60.9% of men, 63.7% of women),”

“I want to enrich my hobbies (50.0% of men, 60.5% of women),” and “I want to maintain and improve my health (48.4 of men).” 27.3% of men, 40.1% of women), 49.2% of men, 55.4% of women), 49.2% of men, 55.4% of women), and 27.3% of men, 40.1% of women). The motivation to connect was found to be higher among women than between men and women6 ) .

On the other hand, the motives for the high proportion of men were “to keep up with social changes (31.3% for men, 19.7% for women)” and “want to be more educated (38.3% for men, 27.4% for women).” It can be seen that this approach captures lifelong learning6 ) .

Challenges of purpose in life for elderly women

In the old days, there were many families where three households, including children and grandchildren, lived together, and many elderly women’s purpose in life was “when they are together with their families and grandchildren.

However, with the increase in the number of long-lived and healthy elderly people and the transition to a social environment in which it is easier to obtain stability and peace of mind, there is a need for hobbies, sports, social participation, lifelong learning, friendships, and self-fulfillment to improve and fulfill oneself. An increasing number of elderly women find it worthwhile to spend time with their loved ones.

Today’s elderly women live with their parents-in-law and children’s families, and live in close ties with the community. I have been choosing and adapting my own path accordingly. For this reason, while men who have devoted their lives to work tend to withdraw due to a sense of loss after retirement, it is also possible for men to smoothly transition to a lifestyle for self-actualization even in the stage of old age when their living environment and roles change. It is possible.

In Japan, it is expected that opportunities for women to play an active role in society will increase in the future, and the number of women who continue to work until retirement age will increase. Busy work makes it difficult to have time to have contact with the community, and it can be said that the connection with the local community is weakening. In order to live a life worth living in old age, it is necessary to value connections with the local community, friends and associates, and one’s own interests and concerns until old age.

In line with the changes and diversification of women’s lifestyles in the future, there is a need for a flexible support system that allows women to live their lives with ties to their local communities, friends, and colleagues while having their own roles at work and at home. It will be

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