Why do men and women confront different patterns of decline in intellect and memory loss?

    When entering into marriage, many individuals assume they will age in a similar manner and time frame as their partner.  However, scientific studies are now finding that the normal decline in memory and intellect that comes with aging may occur earlier (and faster!) in men than women.  


Why is there a difference in age-related intellectual capacity? 

A study done by the National Institute on Aging in Baltimore found that profound changes in society have increased women’s exposure to cognitive stimulation, health improvements, and economic prosperity.  This, in turn, has resulted in greater resilience among women to age-related cognitive change.  The same study analyzed data that was collected from 2,000 participants at different times between 1979 and 2013.  The subjects of the research ranged from 50 to 96 years old at the start of the study.  Over a nine-year period, the subjects participated in approximately four cognitive assessments that measured functions such as memory, attention, mental flexibility, and verbal abilities.  

    On baseline tests, the women outperformed the men on the majority of the tests, including the ability to participate in a conversation naturally, coordination of body movements with mental activity, and word learning and memory.  Most importantly, women scored higher on a mental-status exam that was used to screen for dementia.  

    It is important to note that men did not score lower on all of the tests completed in this study.  Men had significantly higher scores than women on baseline special assessments that measured their ability to perceive objects in relation to other objects.  


Planning for the Future

     Because of this discrepancy in “mental aging” between men and women, it is important to start planning your estate together sooner rather than later to ensure that both partners are able to contribute equally and substantially to the creation of your estate plan.  If you need help developing an estate plan, call the attorneys at Smith Strong at (804) 325-1245 (Richmond) or (757) 941-4298 (Williamsburg).

H. Van Smith
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Trusted Virginia Attorney Serving Richmond to Williamsburg