50, they say, is the new 30. 50 year olds these days are really rocking it – gorgeous, trendy and vibrant. Most as women age, they tend to relax in so many areas and begin to take a lot of things for granted. Probably because they feel “What’s the point?”
Today, I want to point out 5 mistake women make in their mid-life which we should all avoid making.
- You Ignore your heart
Heart disease is the number one killer of women, and risk rises as women age. That you are getting older doesn’t mean your heart should begin to ail you. What causes the heart to ‘age’ are those bad habits earlier in life, such as smoking, obesity, and lack of exercise. These are the things that can begin to take a toll on heart health in the 50 and over woman, according to the American Heart Association.
Even though you may have had these bad habits when you were younger, it doesn’t mean that hope is lost for you now at 50. If you haven’t already been diagnosed with a heart condition, It isn’t too late to change those habits that increase your risk of heart disease.
Although some damage may already be done, evidence points to the fact that changes you make in terms of getting more exercise, eating smarter, losing weight, and quitting smoking, no matter what your age, will benefit your heart.
This is also the time to make sure you keep up with heart health tests such as blood pressure, blood glucose, and cholesterol testing. Prevention or early detection, when problems can be easily treated, will help keep a woman active and healthy.
2. You try to live with menopause miseries.
One of the biggest mistakes women make during this time is thinking they have to learn to live with menopausal symptoms like hot flashes, sleeping difficulties, and vaginal and urinary problems.
Although short-term use of hormonal therapy has been shown to help many women who deal with some of the most severe problems of menopause, not every woman is a candidate or may want to take hormones, says reproductive endocrinologist Barbara Soltes, M.D., of Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. “But that doesn’t mean they have to suffer since there is other help available,” she says.
For example, if hot flashes are causing difficulty, the North American Menopause Society just released findings on what really works to cool the heat. According to their report cognitive behavioral therapy (including relaxation techniques, learning how to feel more positive about menopause, and sleep strategies) can reduce hot flash severity. Clinical hypnosis has some good evidence, too.
Bladder issues like stress or urge incontinence can also be helped with medications, devices, and behavioral changes, says Soltes, who advises women to see a doctor with a special interest in menopause if they are having any menopausal difficulties.
- You think sex is over.
It is true that sexual frequency can decline with age, but a survey published in The New England Journal of Medicine shows even 75- to 85-year-olds had sex two to three times a month, with more than 20 percent reporting sexual relations at least once a week. (Unbelievable, right?!)
However, sex can change due to hormonal upheavals at menopause, which can cause vaginal dryness and potentially painful sex. But over-the-counter lubricating products can help, as can prescription topical estrogen, says Kat Van Kirk. Kegel exercises, and pelvic floor physical therapy may also help some women improve sexual function.
It’s important for women to remember that sex “. . . can be hugely beneficial to our bodies, minds and spirits,” says Van Kirk, often resulting in improved pelvic muscle tone, healthier vaginal tissues, and better psychological well-being. (Lets add “As well as being really pleasurable” to that list. *wink*)
4. You allow yourself gain weight.
Here’s the real story: The risk of weight gain rises due to advancing age, but it does not mean extra pounds are inevitable. But you do have to work harder to maintain your weight and to lose weight, says Rush Medical Center’s Soltes.
That’s because so-called energy expenditures decrease during menopause due to loss of muscle and hormonal changes. “If you eat the same things and exercise the same amount as you did in your thirties, you could potentially still gain weight,” says Soltes. “Women don’t want to hear that, but it is biology.”
While exercise is great, you have to eat a little smarter, too. Eat more fruits, vegetables and lean proteins, and be aware of what you are putting on your plate.
5. You don’t go for checkups and health screenings.
By now, certain screening tests — think PAP, blood pressure, cholesterol — are part of your healthy living routine. But once you hit 50 (and beyond), your doctor will recommend others, such as colorectal cancer screening (starting at age 50) and bone density screening (at age 65). If you decided not to have a mammogram in your forties, start now. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends women ages 50 to 74 have a mammograms biennially starting at age 50. The American Cancer Society recommends women start mammograms at age 45 and and have them every year until age 55, and then start having them every other year.