Aging is an inevitable process. Unfortunately, many women aren’t tuned in to the changes that take place in both body and mind as the years go by. Plus, women tend to spend much of their lives caring for others, often at the expense of themselves.
The good news: There are things you can do to maintain your health and well-being as you journey into your golden years. Here’s what you should watch for during each life phase:
In your 20s
Gaining weight is common during this decade. With college exams and/ or work demands and a busy social schedule, you might find it difficult to get the rest, food and exercise you need. If you overindulge with alcohol or caffeine, it can interfere with your ability to get quality sleep and increases your risks of problems later in life.
What to do: Adopt healthy habits now. “Get 150 minutes of cardiovascular activity each week, plus two to three days of resistance training and weight- bearing exercise,” says M. Elizabeth Swenor, D.O., who is board certified in Family Medicine and leads the Functional Medicine program at the Henry Ford Center for Integrative Medicine.
In your 30s and 40s
Many women are juggling child rearing, job demands and aging parents. If you have children during these years, you may also be navigating hormonal changes. Burning the candle at both ends may also cause weight gain.
What to do: Prioritize self-care. “Practice mindfulness and minimize stress. Eat healthy, get seven to nine hours of sleep and work out four to five times each week,” Dr. Swenor suggests. Screenings for diseases, cholesterol levels and blood pressure are strongly recommended.
In your 50s and 60s
Many women experience insomnia, night sweats, mental fog and depression as they go through menopause. You may notice hairs cropping up on your chin, neck and face, and changes in sexual desire and function.
What to do: Eat a plant-based diet. Eliminate processed foods, soda and cheese as much as you can. Get sleep, reduce your stress and exercise daily.
In your 70s and beyond ...
You may notice difficulty with focus, balance and agility. Your appetite and sleep cycle may change as well, and you may find yourself going to bed earlier at night and waking up earlier.
What to do: Take steps to prevent falls and get your eyes checked. Develop a daily schedule for meals, bedtime and waking. Exercise and visit your doctor annually.
The key to wellness throughout your life is maintaining healthy habits and increasing self-awareness. “We can improve our overall health by reducing whole body stress and inflammation through good nutrition and exercise,” Dr. Swenor says.
To find a primary care doctor or registered dietitian at Henry Ford, visit our Primary Care section or call (800) 436-7936.