Health Priorities for Aging Women

Now that children and grandchildren are nicely settled back into the routine of school and after-school activities, caregivers who have been on duty non-stop for the entire summer have a bit of time for themselves.  And besides scheduling eye appointments, dental cleanings and annual physicals, adults often use the start of the school year as a season to make some healthy lifestyle changes.

Women are most frequently enlisted as caregivers for young children and for aging friends and family but learning to take care of themselves as they age can be sidelined by other concerns.  But with seniors living well into their 80s and 90s, many middle aged and older adults are wise to be looking at how they can improve and protect their health in old age.    Does staying vibrant, happy and strong sound good to the ears of older women?  Dr. Vivian Brown has a new book set to hit shelves September 23, A Women’s Guide to Healthy Aging, that distills what are the most important lifestyle changes women can make to not only age well but to thrive.

According to a recent report in the Globe and Mail, besides eating a healthy diet (think DASH diet) and getting regular exercise, women can help protect their brain and heart health as well as physical function with five simple steps.

Five Steps to a Healthier Old Age

  1. Talk to a doctor at the first sign of memory loss or confusion – drugs are available that can slow cognitive decline if caught early.  Stop smoking, limit alcohol and include blueberries, fish and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and brussels sprouts in your diet for brain health.
  2. Check your heart disease risk factors; ask your doctor about the Framingham Risk Score and make appropriate lifestyle changes once you know your risk.  A healthy diet, good sleep and exercise habits and stress reduction can have benefits that exceed those of medications.
  3. Keep bones strong with vitamin D supplements.  Bone loss can increase the risk for fracture; after a hip fracture more than a quarter of women die within a year.  If your doctor recommends medication, heed their advice.
  4. Talk with your doctor about hormone therapy in your early 50s, near the time of menopause.  HRT, if taken early, may reduce risk for dementia and bone loss and may help prevent plaques from forming in the arteries.
  5. Get your recommended vaccinations including flu and pneumonia shots as well as the shingles vaccine and if sexually active, possibly the HPV vaccine.

Talk early and often with your doctor about what steps you should be taking to help prevent age-related illness and live longer, in better health and with more vigor.   To read more about Brown’s guide or to pre-order the book follow this link to .