I don’t usually get to watch the news (my kids usually flip to Disney Junior!), but last week, a segment on the Today Show caught my attention. Research published recently in The Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health found that single moms were more likely to develop health problems later in life compared to their married counterparts.
What that what?
According to the study’s lead author, Harvard professor Lisa Berkman, single mothers in her study suffered from poorer health as they aged than women who were married. Apparently, they experienced difficulty with things like climbing stairs, getting around and cooking.
Berkman’s findings, which were based on data collected from more than 25,000 women in the U.S. and Europe, suggest that the daily stress of raising kids alone takes a toll. This seems pretty obvious; more work = more stress. But the scary part, for me, is the potential risks that might arise.
Her research revealed that the longer a woman parented by herself, the bigger the risk. While there is minimal long-term health risks for women who were single parents for less than seven years, those who remained single for more than 14 years had an 80 percent higher risk of health issues. Also high risk were moms who had children before the age of 18 and moms who had two or more children. Previous research has found that single parents can have greater overall risk of mortality, cardiovascular disease and mental health issues.
So what can we do to minimize the risk? The study’s experts had the following advice:
Take time for yourself
We hear this one all the time. And trust me, we really do try. But between school plays, soccer practices and family dinners, it can become tough to make time for you. But you’ve got to do it. And now you’ve got a great excuse. “Sorry sweetie, I can’t play transformers, I’m having some “me time”… for my health.”
Go for regular medical checkups
This is a no-brainer, but in case you need a little extra encouragement GO TO SEE YOUR DOCTOR ON A REGULAR BASIS. Hope that helped!
Huh? I was shocked that remarriage was key, but apparently they found it to be the biggest way to reduce long-term ill health. Apparently it has protective benefits.
Now I need some time to digest the news . . . I’m going to get a mani, just as the doctor ordered.