With Mother’s Day next month, it’s time to start thinking about women, particularly about women’s health. Today, aging successfully is in focus more than ever, and it’s become apparent that there are some health risks that are more common in women than men.
Breast cancer, for example, mainly impacts women, and heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States. Though men are more likely to abuse alcohol, women who do usually experience more health issues. And more women than men suffer from osteoarthritis and stroke each year.
On top of that, older women face the other risks usually associated with aging, such as Alzheimer’s and dementia, arthritis, injuries caused from falls, decreased mobility, depression, hip fractures, incontinence, and vision problems. For many women, aging is a frightening prospect, but it doesn’t have to be. Today, women still live longer than men, and are living even longer lifespans. To that end, it’s important to stay active and educated about taking care of your body and your mind.
Here are some tips to keep in mind to live and age successfully.
Exercise regularly. Though the official recommendation is 30 minutes of heart-pumping cardio at least twice a week, finding a few minutes to get up and move each day can be extremely beneficial to your quality of life. You’ll improve your mobility, increase your flexibility and eventually have more energy. If you’re bound to a wheelchair or can’t walk around like you used to, there are many chair exercise classes or programs to accommodate your needs. Every little bit helps.
Eat consciously. This may seem like a no-brainer, but obesity is rapidly on the rise in America, and much of that comes from eating over-processed food in unhealthy portions. While there are many “fad diets,” there are also many scientifically proven eating plans with healthy aging in mind. The Mediterranean diet, for example, focuses on plant-based foods, whole grains, legumes and nuts, and research suggests it can slow cognitive decline in older adults.
Get plenty of sleep and rest. Though not a problem for some people, many find it difficult to relax and experience productive, uninterrupted sleep. A good night’s sleep is especially important to older adults because it improves memory and concentration, allows the body to repair cell damage and refreshes the body’s immune system. Not having sufficient energy during the day can also lead to listlessness and isolation.
Find or continue a hobby. Speaking of isolation, try to stay involved and active as much as possible. There is a reason many retirees are going back to work or finding active careers in volunteering. It feels good to do things, socialize and stay busy. It not only keeps you active physically — it’s fulfilling and essential to your mental health.
Drink in moderation. Though your drinking habits may have stayed the same, the body’s ability to process alcohol changes over the years. Drinking alcohol also decreases balance, which can lead to falls and injuries. Drinking too much for a long period of time can lead to liver damage, some types of cancer and brain damage, and it usually worsens conditions like osteoporosis, high blood pressure and diabetes. Also, alcohol doesn’t mix well with medicine, so always check with your doctor if you’re taking any regularly.
Take medications safely. This may also seem like common sense, but drug therapy noncompliance is a hugely common problem, especially in older adults. Make sure you have an organized system for managing your medications, and check with your primary care physician if you have questions. Always disclose all the medications you take to make sure you’re not taking poor drug combinations, which can be very dangerous.
Manage your stress levels. This one may surprise you. Women are more deeply affected by the emotional and physical effects of stress than men, and their reaction to stress is connected to their body chemistry. The “anti-stress” hormone oxytocin is more common in women than men, but women need more of it to maintain their emotional wellbeing.
High levels of stress can lead to stomach and digestion issues, weight gain, trouble sleeping, emotional problems, rash and a lowered immune response. In severe causes, it can even increase risk for heart disease and cancer. Multitasking may be necessary in a busy lifestyle, but find a few minutes each day to reflect, relax and decompress. Exercising, participating in fun activities and connecting with friends are also naturally destressing, so just make sure you make time for you. Easier said than done, I know.
This information is provided by CarePatrol of Baltimore, a senior housing placement agency that serves the Baltimore city and county areas. If you or your loved one need to find a new home, consider talking to a CarePatrol housing placement specialist. They will sit down with you, assess your needs and financial situation, and offer the best options they can find. They are also available for tours and guidance during your final search. You can contact a specialist at (410) 844-0800, CarePatrolBaltimore@CarePatrol.com or www.carepatrolbaltimore.com. You can also find them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/CarePatrolBaltimore.