For women, turning 50 is a milestone. Society tells you it's a crossroads. Your body underscores the point. Every woman over 50 feels it.
"The kids are going to college, parents are aging. There may be marriage problems, job challenges. It's definitely a stressful time," says Jennifer Zreloff, MD, an internist with the executive health program at Emory University School of Medicine. "You also find that you can't abuse your body as much as when you were younger. Your body just isn't as resilient as it used to be. It's a time when women need to seriously take stock of their lifestyle habits, and make some changes."
By Janice Graham
As you hit one of those big birthdays, you probably worry more about new
wrinkles than about less visible body parts — like your heart. But recent
research has found that each decade of your life is a crossroads, with new
health concerns to worry about. What's more, you need to be aware of these
issues — because your doctor may not be. "Many physicians fail to recognize how
much a woman's risk factors for heart disease evolve over her lifetime," says
For many women over 50, it's also a time of self-reflection, says Cynthia Barnett, EdD, a retirement lifestyle specialist in Norwalk, Conn. "You begin thinking about your purpose in life, about finding what makes you happy and fulfilled. You may be ready for something new, work you love to do."
Women Over 50: Making More of Mind and Body
To keep mind and health in optimal shape, here's your to-do list:
___Get lots of sleep. Maybe you got along with four hours a night when you were 40, but your body can't take that abuse when you're older.
___Set aside quiet time every morning. Meditate, pray, visualize your day. Read something that inspires you. Focus on self-renewal.
___Be optimistic. Take time to understand what you want out of life. Find purpose and meaning. Then spread the joy to others.
___Get cancer screenings.Colon screening begins at 50. Mammograms should be annual. Pap smears continue every one to three years if you are sexually active.
___Check your bones with a bone density scan. Talk to your doctor about calcium and vitamin D. Get at least 1,200 milligrams of calcium daily.