Single people die younger. According to this article, the difference might be due to a spouse who nags you to eat better or see a doctor. I think it’s also likely that you’ll get better care from doctors when a family member can advocate for you. Read the article here.
And here’s another article about positive effects of marriage on men’s health. Click here.
One thing that gets ignored is the way the health care system views single versus married people. It’s assumed that you’ll have a family member pick you up after outpatient surgery. The Family Medical Leave provides only for care of a parent, spouse or child – not even a brother or niece, let alone a friend. People can’t get off work to drive a friend home from the hospital, especially in the middle of the day with short notice. Additionally, we keep hearing that it’s important to have family members with you if you’re in a hospital; otherwise you’re far more subject to medical errors, neglect and even outright abuse.
Some people genuinely enjoy their own solitude and single status. In terms of aging, that’s a plus, because we’re more independent and less likely to mourn. But getting care becomes a massive invasion of privacy, with limited options for support.
One of the comments suggested that single people had “less to live for” than married people. Don’t you just love it? What net …. disabled people? older people? people without dogs?
I suspect single people put off doctor visits because doctors tend to be rude and patronizing when talking to single people. When I told one doctor I didn’t have kids, she said smugly, “Oh, so you don’t like youngsters?” Single people tend to have more complicated answers to questions about our personal and intimate lives, and most of these questions aren’t essential to our well-being.
Medical settings are set up for families. In a shared hospital room, a single person who’s used to living alone in a quiet space will suffer the noise of a roommate’s extended family. The spouse will go to the nurse’s station and demand attention. Single people will be treated rudely or even ignored.
Waiting rooms have loud TV sets to accommodate children. Families rarely mute their for even the most personal conversations. I now refuse blood pressure tests after exposure to these stressful settings.
So I’m not surprised that cancers are diagnosed at later stages. I suspect many single people would rather face death than the series of frustrating, insulting encounters with doctors for “treatment.” We also know that we won’t survive long in nursing homes or other facilities without someone to act as out advocate.
Forget those ideas about hounding singles to go for preventive tests and set up some ‘single-friendly” medical facilities. And read Bella DePaolo’s book, Singled Out.