Women and Aging – Health Strategies Pt 2

nurse examines a senior

Women and Aging Part 2: Emotional Health, Appearance and Sexuality in Aging Women

Older women experience marginalization at a higher rate than men and feel less valued as they age. Many women over 60 express a feeling of invisibility in public and at work. Women face added societal pressures that discriminate on appearance, level of knowledge and abilities. Women experience extreme hormonal fluctuations during menopause that affect physical and emotional wellbeing. Women are twice as likely to suffer from depression.

Women earn less income during their working life a result of pay inequity, interrupted work histories due to child rearing and caretaking, and lack of opportunities for women in the workplace. AARP states that almost 70 percent of women age 75 or older are widowed, divorced or never married compared to 30 percent of men. Elderly women have a higher rate of housing insecurity than elder men.

Women’s Healthy Aging Tips and Strategies

Women’s physical health and emotional wellbeing can be directly related to their self-esteem and how they feel about their bodies. Significant physical changes accompany the aging process for women.

Skin and Weight

Skin loses elasticity and moisture as women age. Weight is harder to manage, even with diet and exercise. The midsection of the body thickens.

Strategies:

  • Engage in daily physical activity and exercise.
  • Eat a diet rich in omega 3 and unsaturated fats like olive oil.
  • Use a humidifier in dry climates.
  • Hydrate regularly by drinking plenty of water.
  • Reduce consumption of caffeine, alcohol and carbonated beverages.
  • Apply absorbent cream to exposed skin.
  • Consume the recommended caloric intake of low fat proteins, dark leafy vegetables, fresh fruit, nuts and whole grains, for your height, age and body mass.

Emotional Health

Women’s physical and emotional changes that arise from aging include chronic health conditions, loss of partners and friends, retirement, social isolation, mobility or cognition changes. These challenges can lead to depression and/or anxiety.

Strategies:

  • Daily exercise and physical activity releases endorphins and improves mood.
  • Socialize with others and volunteer.
  • Weather and conditions permitting, spend time out of doors.
  • Do not self-medicate with drugs and alcohol.
  • Speak to your health care professional if you are feeling anxiety or symptoms of depression.

Sexuality

Sexual desire may wane with age and female hormone loss. The vaginal lining thins resulting in less lubrication which may make intercourse uncomfortable. Vaginal stimulation may diminish but clitoral stimulation is shown not to be affected by the aging process. Social isolation, chronic health issues, and loss of a loved one can further diminish sexual desire.

Strategies:

  • Have annual gynecological exams.
  • Engage in daily exercise. Exercise improves the release of sexual hormones and endorphins can improve one’s self-image and self-esteem.
  • Address chronic health issues.
  • Spend time with others.
  • Hormonal treatments are available to assist in sexual function.
  • Perform Kegel exercises to support vaginal responsiveness.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider about physical and emotional concerns regarding your sexuality and desire.
  • The highest rate of HIV infection is in the senior community. Always use a condom during intercourse.

Focus on Aging Women in America

Women outnumber men in assisted living and nursing communities 7 to 1 which often results in female focused care and programming. Proposed pay equity and non-discrimination in hiring practice legislation may over time result in a higher rate of financial security leading to additional housing and care options for older women.

The 13 elder women who founded Green Hill (The Society for Respectable Aged Women) in Newark New Jersey in 1866 sought to create a place where women could age together and support each other. Today there is a resurgence of the desire by women to create communal housing opportunities for aging in the US.

To learn more about communal housing for aging women visit http://www.womenlivingincommunity.com. To learn more about women and aging visit http://www.ncsl.org.

To read Women and Aging Part 1 – Physical Health and Strategies for Aging Women, visit www.green-hill.com.

5 Star Rated Green Hill Senior Living

Green Hill Senior Living provides 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 Hillâ Homes 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.