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Aging Gracefully: Health Tips for the Aging Woman

Aging Gracefully: Health Tips for the Aging Woman

Health Tips for the Aging Woman

After reaching a certain age, women will experience menopause and many other changes throughout the body. While the transitional age for these hormonal and physical changes can vary from woman to woman, there are similarities that every woman can expect later in life. Here is what you should know to help you live happily and healthily throughout your senior years.

Menopause and Hormonal Changes

Menopause is the point in a woman’s life where menstrual periods stop permanently. Menopause is confirmed when a woman has not had a period for 12 consecutive months. Women will most likely experience menopause around aged 50; however, some women can experience early menopause in their 30s, or even later menopause in their 60s.

Signs and Symptoms

During the transitional period of perimenopause, the stage before menopause, your ovaries’ production of estrogen and progesterone constantly changes. This irregular change in hormone levels can happen at random, which typically causes widely known menopausal symptoms.

Although every woman can experience menopause and perimenopause differently, there are a few common symptoms that come along with this transition.

  • Changes in menstrual cycle
  • Hot flashes
  • Tiredness
  • Night sweats
  • Dry skin and hair
  • Hair loss
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Pain or soreness during intercourse
  • Reduced sex drive

While many women do not need to seek treatment for their uncomfortable symptoms, you can consult your doctor to help you determine the best ways to manage any discomfort.

Continuing Gynecological Visits

Although menopause marks the end of your fertility, you can still benefit from having your annual well-woman visit with your OB/GYN.

Cancer Screenings

Because healthy women aged 65 and older no longer need cervical cancer screenings, many women believe that they do not need to see their gynecologist. Although the risk for cervical cancer decreases, your risk for various other cancers increases with age, including::

  • Uterine
  • Ovarian
  • Breast

There is no surefire way to screen for all gynecological cancers. However, some of the most commonly performed screening tests include:

  • Mammograms
  • Rectovaginal pelvic exams
  • Transvaginal ultrasounds
  • CA-125 blood test

Pelvic Exam

Pelvic exams are still important for maintaining your gynecological health as an older woman. These exams are performed to check the outside of the vagina, the vagina and the cervix for signs of disease or infection.

Sexual Health

Many women continue to be sexually active into their later years, so there still is a need for them to see their gynecologist. Regardless of your lifestyle, if you are introducing new sexual partners into your life, it is necessary to have regular testing done to check for sexually transmitted diseases and infections.

Mental Health as You Age

Although there are a multitude of physical changes that happen to the body later in life, older women also can experience a negative impact on their emotional well-being. as well.

Signs and Symptoms of Depression

Depression is the most prevalent mental health issue that older adults experience. This mental health issue is associated not only with negative thoughts and feelings but also with physical health issues that can result from, or be made worse by, increased levels of stress.

Although depression can affect people differently, it is important to recognize the common signs and symptoms that may suggest that your mental health is suffering. These include:

  • Feeling helpless
  • Feeling as though something bad is going to happen
  • Loss of interest in things you previously enjoyed
  • Weight changes
  • Loss of appetite
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Irritability
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Loss of energy
  • Restlessness
  • Unexplained aches and pains

Tips for Mental Health Wellness

As people get older, they have a tendency to isolate themselves and feel alone. Rather than withdrawing from your daily routine, try to incorporate some of these tips to boost your mood:

  • Try mindfulness or meditation
  • Spend time with loved ones
  • Vent about your feelings to someone you trust
  • Avoid self-criticism
  • Try journaling each day
  • Get seven to nine hours of sleep each night
  • Get regular exercise
  • Avoid alcohol, tobacco and other drugs

If following positive coping mechanisms on your own doesn’t seem to be helping, it is important to seek help. Talking to a mental health professional is not a sign of weakness but the first step toward mental health and wellness.

Staying Active as You Get Older

Getting regular exercise later in life can not only help you feel healthier but also make you feel younger. Here's why you should keep moving on into your golden years.

Improved Cardiovascular Health

Like all your other muscles, your heart needs regular exercise to help it function properly and efficiently. When your heart is in top condition, it is able to deliver blood to various parts of your body with ease.

Leading a sedentary lifestyle is one of the top preventable risk factors for developing cardiovascular disease. Staying physically active helps to lower the risk of developing heart disease in the following ways:

  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Lowers HDL (bad cholesterol) level
  • Improves circulation
  • Maintains hormonal balance

Reduced Risk of Osteoporosis

After menopause, women’s bone density starts to decline because your body begins to reabsorb the calcium and phosphorus in your bones to use in other parts of the body. When too much bone is lost, osteoporosis develops—leaving you more susceptible to orthopedic injury.

Similar to muscles, bones respond to exercise by becoming more durable and resilient. Weight-bearing exercises and resistance exercises are the best to help build up bone density.

Reduced Aches and Pains

Staying physically active also can help to reduce and even reverse the effects of persistent pain. By gradually introducing exercise into your routine, you can effectively reduce various sources of orthopedic pain.

Recommended Physical Activity

It is advised that older adults aim for about two hours and 30 minutes each week of moderate-intensity exercise. If you weren’t previously active, you can start gradually and work up to introducing longer durations of exercise into your weekly routine over time.

Some moderate-intensity exercises you can incorporate into your fitness routine include:

  • Speed-walking
  • Dancing
  • Swimming
  • Gardening
  • Hiking
  • Yoga
  • Climbing stairs

Women’s Health Services in Northeast Ohio

At Southwest General Medical Group, Inc., we are proud to offer comprehensive and compassionate women's health care services for women through all stages of life. To learn more about our women’s health services or schedule an appointment, visit our website or call 440-816-5050.