Google Answers Logo
View Question
Q: Mortality Statistics for Widowers (men over 60) ( No Answer,   3 Comments )
Subject: Mortality Statistics for Widowers (men over 60)
Category: Health > Seniors
Asked by: foosh-ga
List Price: $10.00
Posted: 10 Feb 2005 11:08 PST
Expires: 12 Mar 2005 11:08 PST
Question ID: 472422
1.  What are the mortality statistics for widowed men over 60?  
A)  What are the variables?  In other words, what's the mortality rate
if a widower remarries or has a companion vs. if they do not?  What is
he is active in a group, community, hobbies or some sort of job?
B) Will the grieving process be different because of the prolonged
illness?  Will he ever be able to get "back to normal"?

Here's the facts of the specific situation:  

-He's a white male, 63 years old, his wife (62
years old) has had cancer for 2 years and despite treatment is not
expected to live another year, they have been married for 45 years.

-habits:  He doesn't smoke, but does drink (it's suspected that he
may drink too much, but we're not sure if he's an alcoholic), eats a
decent diet, he's fairly active and walks daily, he's not overweight,
overall physical health is good.  He?s retired, does not work or
volunteer anywhere.

-family medical history:  mother and father had no known diseases,
mother lived into her 80s passed away due to complications resulting
from smoking for many years, father passed away at age 75 - cause
unknown, probably a heart attack.

-mental state:  Is not good and has not been good throughout his
wife's illness, it almost seems to flip flop from high to low.  He
initially told her he would commit suicide when she was gone, but has
not mentioned it since and she's convinced him to take up a hobby,
which he has.

-Their marriage:  Their marriage has been stable, his wife did all of
the cooking and housekeeping, he will not do either.

-His Family/Friends:  He has one child who lives more than 2
hours away, they've never had a close relationship, but the adult
child will help take care of him and is concerned.  He has a few
friends - but the frequency of contact and visits isn't known.
There is no answer at this time.

Subject: Re: Mortality Statistics for Widowers (men over 60)
From: scubajim-ga on 10 Feb 2005 16:24 PST
Your best bet would be to contact an actuary.  You could look at the
standard mortality tables (eg 1980 CSO or more recent).  That will
give you the year by year mortality of a large population using the
average mortality of that large population.  You say that he has
cancer and is not expected to live a year.  This estimate probably has
a large variance (he could live another 3 weeks or 4 years).
Given that he drinks and is depressed and has cancer probably doesn't
bode well for his mortality.  You could try to get him insured and
that would give you an answer or sorts.  If you tried to buy life
insurance on him the insurance company would probably decline to issue
due to his health.  That would be a strong indication that he has a
short life expectency.  (That is out of a large group of people with
his situation very few would live long enough to pay adaquately
"reasonable" premiums to even break even.  Or there are so few people
in his class of risk that they cannot issue insurance because then it
isn't insurance but gamboling.  Insurance is the spreading of risk; if
there are not very many people to spread the risk over then it isn't
insurance.)  If they rate the life insurance highly (charge a lot vs
other's his age) then that gives you some more information about his
life expectency.  (not terrible, but not good)

But life expectency is "tricky" conceptually because it applies to a
large population and does not apply to specific individuals.  For
example, if you took a million people with the same age and health
situation as me, and the same avocations you might see helf of them
live to 68.  That doesn't mean I would live to 68; it means half the
people would live to 68.

Also when they underwrite you for life insurance they use select and
ultimate tables.  That is since they look at you when they issue the
insurance (DMV, medical, avocation etc.) they have a pretty good idea
of your health and risk factors.  Every year from then on they assume
you get worse with health and risk factors.  Thus the select mortality
wears off until you reach ultimate mortality. (the mortality in the
table unless you have cancer etc. Then that rating may stay with you
in addition to the wearing off of the select mortality.)  Think of it
as a photograph that fades as time goes on.  A year after it is taken
it still looks pretty much like you, but 10 years down the road it may

What do you need the number for?
Subject: Re: Mortality Statistics for Widowers (men over 60)
From: frde-ga on 11 Feb 2005 06:13 PST
My understanding is this:

Your father is 63 years old
Your mother is 62 years old. 
- She has had cancer for two years, and is not expected to last another year

He is not interested in cooking and housework
He comes from reasonably long lived parents
He is apparently healthy and does not smoke
- although you suspect he hits the bottle on the sly.

You want to know what will happen after she dies.

From limited observation, males watching their wives dying slowly of
cancer, do not enjoy the experience at all - in the end it is almost a
relief - seeing someone you care for deeply, deteriorating is

Someone who knows a lot about these things once told me that after
about two years the elderly bereaved perk up.

I knew one guy who sounds pretty similar, his wife died when he was 65
after a similar nightmare, he developed extraordinary cooking talents
(by that I mean the food was distinctly unusual but pretty healthy and
palatable) and lived until he was 84. I am unsure of the exact status
of a female friend (late 30's) of his to whom he had left an
unofficial bequest that I honoured - but I would not be surprized ...

Another guy about 67 when his wife finally expired, joined up with a
very lively lady a few years older than him after about a year. Both
being pretty well off they spend their time galivanting between their
various holiday homes in Europe - with the odd cycling holiday in
France or walking holidays in Spain/Austria/Italy ... to fill in the

Not being sure about your father's general location, affluence,
gregariousness and circle of friends, I would guestimate that there is
a 10% chance that a 45-50 year old bimbo will move in on him, a 20%
chance that a widow closer his age will slip in there, a 30% chance
that after moping he will sell up and buy a more convenient place.
Subject: Re: Mortality Statistics for Widowers (men over 60)
From: saabster-ga on 19 Feb 2005 09:39 PST
He probably needs to establish a relationship with men who have been
in similar circumstances. Is he computer literate? If not, is that
something that he might be interested in---Recently visiting the AARP
website for a friend who is a senior, but not computer literate, I
have found a vast reservoir of information and opportunities for
seniors. I wouldn't be surprised if AARP has some data on widowers.
This organization which advocates on behalf of seniors knows that
health is a critical factor for seniors and probably has huge bank of
information on many of the issues you raise in your question. They
also have a feisty, smart online community who share information on
all of the issues that face people growing older, I would suspect much
information on how to survive losing a partner.

You mentioned a new hobby, but not what it is. Clearly creating new
friendships were people have something in common is important. It is
also probably important to find activities that get him out of the
house in the evening when he would probably miss her most. AARP has
state chapters and they usually have state websites too--which would
allow him to create friendships with people within his state and
possibly his town. I mention computers, because often people who might
feel too sadden or shy to join a club or group, might feel more
relaxed getting to know people online at AARP. It is also a great tool
for the children of seniors, because it provides practical responses
to all the issues which arise for kids with elderly parents.
good luck

Important Disclaimer: Answers and comments provided on Google Answers are general information, and are not intended to substitute for informed professional medical, psychiatric, psychological, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other professional advice. Google does not endorse, and expressly disclaims liability for any product, manufacturer, distributor, service or service provider mentioned or any opinion expressed in answers or comments. Please read carefully the Google Answers Terms of Service.

If you feel that you have found inappropriate content, please let us know by emailing us at with the question ID listed above. Thank you.
Search Google Answers for
Google Answers  

Google Home - Answers FAQ - Terms of Service - Privacy Policy