Women and Aging Part 1: Healthy Aging Tips and Strategies
In 1865 the US civil war ended leaving behind widows and grieving mothers. In 1866 13 women in Newark, New Jersey without husbands and sons to care for them, created The Home For Respectable Aged Women where they could age together. 153 years later the home is called Green Hill Senior Living in West Orange and welcomes men, women, and gender non-binary residents.
Growing old in America remains challenging for women. There are no comprehensive federal policies in place to assure older adults can find quality and affordable housing, support with daily activities, food security and low-cost medication. Medicare and Medicaid benefits are becoming increasingly costly and additionally restrictive.
Women and Aging in the US
Women generally live five years longer than men and earn less income during their working life. AARP states that almost 70 percent of women age 75 or older are widowed, divorced or never married compared to 30 percent of men. Older women experience marginalization at a higher rate than men and feel less valued as they age. They face added societal pressures that discriminate on appearance, level of knowledge and abilities. Socio-economic status, race, culture and religion further marginalize older women.
Women experience more hormonal fluctuations than men. Women are more likely to get osteoporosis, breast cancer and arthritis. American Heart Association states 70% of women 60-79 and 87% of women over 80 have some form of cardiovascular disease. Women are twice as likely to suffer from depression.
Women’s Healthy Aging Strategies
Aging increases a woman’s risk of high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease due to stiffening or hardening of blood vessels and arteries causing the heart to work harder.
- Engage in daily physical activity and exercise.
- Consume a healthy diet rich in veggies, fruit, whole grains, lean protein. Limit fat and salt in your diet.
- Do not smoke.
- Manage stress.
- Get enough sleep.
Osteoporosis, Bone Health and Muscle Mass
With aging women’s bones become less dense, weaken and are susceptible to fracture. Muscles loose strength, endurance and flexibility.
- Eat calcium rich foods and/or take a calcium supplement. Daily recommendation is 800 IU.
- Include Vitamin D either by sunlight, food or supplements. Daily recommendation is 800-1000 IU daily.
- Participate in weight training, resistance exercises and strength building exercise like walking and/or stair climbing.
- Limit alcohol and caffeine consumption.
Digestion and Bladder
Aging causes changes in the structure of the large intestine which may cause constipation. The bladder loses elasticity which may result in difficulty holding urine and a need to urinate more often. Bladder issues can be exacerbated as a result of pregnancies and child birth.
- Drink plenty of fluids, eat fiber rich foods.
- Engage in daily physical activity.
- Do not delay bowel movements.
- Use the toilet often.
- Practice Kegel exercises, vaginal tightening exercises that strengthen the bladder muscle.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Reduce consumption of caffeine, alcohol and carbonated beverages.
One in seven women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.
- Conduct self-breast examinations monthly.
- Note any changes or lumps to your healthcare professional.
- Get mammograms as recommended by your healthcare professional
Read more about Women and Aging. Part 2 – Emotional Health, Appearance and Sexuality and Aging Women to follow soon or visit www.green-hill.com.
5 Star Rated Green Hill Senior Living
Green Hill Senior Living, founded by 13 aging women in New Jersey, continues to provide 5-Star, person directed continuum of care and active retirement living in northern NJ. Living styles include Independent Catered and Assisted Living, Enhanced Assisted Living, Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitative Care. Green Hill’s innovative community includes the The Villas at Green Hill and is Affirming and Welcoming to the LGBT senior community.
This article is for informational purposes only and not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen.