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 Amy Engeler
At 3 a.m., with all the houses dark up and down her winding suburban street in West Warwick, Rhode Island, Jo-Ann Frey, 37, lights a candle so she can see well enough to dust her furniture. Careful not to turn on any lights or make noise that might wake up her family, she drifts from room to room with her candle and cleaning supplies, waiting until she feels sleepy enough to climb back into bed. That feeling doesn't come -- and when she hears the alarm in the bedroom go off...
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
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
___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
___Get an annual checkup. You need blood pressure, cholesterol,
glucose, and thyroid tested. Also, talk to your doctor about any symptoms of
depression, which can be common for women over 50. These include: persistent
sadness or pessimism, feelings of worthlessness, loss of hope, difficulty
concentrating, anxiety, and insomnia.
___Get plenty of aerobic exercise (like walking). It builds strong
bones. It also reduces heart disease risk. Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of
___Take up yoga. Yoga is a great stretching exercise and enhances
flexibility. Flexibility gives you better balance, so you don't fall -- which
___Have fun. Go bungee jumping, rock climbing, backpacking, skiing,
dancing -- whatever makes you happy. Act like you feel, and you'll feel
___Eat colorful foods. It's important for women over 50 to get plenty
of fruits and vegetables. And eat more fatty fish (like salmon) to get
heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Learn to love whole grains, lentils, and
skinless lean protein. Treat yourself to sweets, but only occasionally. When
you use oils, lean toward the good ones, like extra-virgin olive oil.