Aging may be a natural process but it does come with its own sets of highs and lows. You may not feel the same energy and vigor that you had in your youth. You realize that it is not just you but the world around has slowed down too. The grey hair and the wrinkles on the skin are symbols of experience gained over the years.
Wisdom and worldly knowledge contribute to accumulated wealth during the 60s and beyond. This is a perfect time to take care of your health and spend time on yourself as it is a phase of retirement and you are not obliged with any other worldly duties. So women in their 60s and beyond can very well take the most benefit of this period and use it for their health advantage.
Aging Related Health Issues
As we live long enough, changes in body composition, physical function and performance occur in all of us be it, men or women. Many of these changes, as well as health problems, which become more common in old age, have long been attributed to the ‘normal aging process’ — whatever that may be! However, as can be observed when looking at those around us, people vary enormously in the degree to which changes occur with aging, as it is largely dependent on their health practices and behaviors in the earlier years.
As women grow older, a decline in muscle mass and an increase in body fat tend to occur. A major contributor to these changes is the increasingly sedentary nature of women’s lifestyles. Reduced physical activity leads to loss of muscle and as a direct consequence basal metabolic rate falls.
A lower metabolic rate means that women need to eat less to maintain the same body weight but this in turn makes it increasingly difficult to meet their needs for essential nutrients leading to deficiency diseases (1).
Advancing age in women often brings an increase in blood pressure and a reduced ability to metabolize glucose from food. Diabetes also becomes more prevalent. Once again, these changes are linked to a lack of physical activity, increasing levels of obesity, and an increased tendency for body fat to distribute around the abdomen (1).
Various studies and reviews have been conducted that compile data regarding the health issues of elderly women. It has been observed from these studies that osteoarthritis, bronchial asthma, cataracts, anemia, dental decay, body weakness, and pain and skin problems are common among women of age 60 and beyond.
A decrease in the mean weight of women is also commonly seen during this period. Among the mental issues, women in their 60s and beyond are more prone to feelings of stress and strain, declining authority, loneliness, and neglect (2,3).
Health Tips For Women In Their 60s And Beyond
Although aging appears to be an inevitable, natural process programmed into the genes, many of the changes that occur in women’s bodies as they grow older are at least partly the result of lifestyle or environmental factors. Therefore, the good news is that they may be amenable to modification. In other words, adopting a lifestyle may go a long way in improving the overall well-being of women of this age.
Lower levels of estrogen during and after menopause will have a big impact on your skin at this age. Hormonal changes cause the skin to become dry, among other things. Find a face cleanser with a creamier formula, and put moisturizers on when your skin is still damp. The natural protection of the skin goes down as women age hence sunscreen is very much required at this age too.
Age spots and wrinkles are common and will start looking more obvious. You have to understand that there is not much that you could do about this unless you are ready for some cosmetic surgery. Exfoliation and cleansing are important.
Do not neglect important nutrients
Some key nutrients tend to be in shorter supply as women age, and sometimes taking supplements to make up for nutrients that aren’t absorbed from food as easily is recommended. Deficiencies of micronutrients are very common during this age. Some key vitamins and nutrients to focus on include: vitamin B12, folate/folic acid, calcium, vitamin D, potassium, magnesium, omega-3 fats, and fiber.
Work your memory and brain function
Brain function tends to decline as you age. Levels of neurotransmitters and receptors also go down and this may affect mood, motivation, and memory. Find something to do every day that keeps your brain stimulated. This can include reading, crossword puzzles, or even brain-stimulating apps on your phone, etc. keep yourself constantly engaged to keep up your mental health and well-being.
Less than one-third of women over 65 exercise regularly, but it’s not the result of getting older. Most women simply become less active as they age—but they don’t need to. The need for regular physical activity and exercise doesn’t change when you age. In fact, it becomes even more important.
Age-related problems like muscle loss, bone density loss, and increased difficulties with balance and flexibility, can be avoided with a regular exercise routine.
As you grow older insomnia becomes common. You may find it difficult to fall asleep as well as experience fragmented and restless sleep. The added symptoms of menopause make sleeping more difficult for many. Make sure you have a sleep schedule in place. You can follow a night routine to relax and calm your mind. Keep away from gadgets an hour before sleeping. Use dark curtains to avoid any artificial light and place some soothing music, read a book or simply practice some meditation before going to bed.
Health Screenings For Women In Their 60s And Beyond
Screening for blood pressure
Have your blood pressure checked at least once every year. If your blood pressure is on the higher side or if you have a history of the same then schedule an appointment with your physician to learn how you can reduce your blood pressure. If you have diabetes, heart disease, kidney problems, or certain other conditions, you may need to have your blood pressure checked more often.
Screening for breast cancer
You can perform a breast self-exam monthly. You can also ask your gynecologist to clinically examine your breasts during your routine check-up. Women up to age 75 should have a mammogram every 1 to 2 years, depending on their risk factors, to check for breast cancer. Talk to your gynecologist about what is best for you.
Screening for cervical cancer
After age 65, most women who have not been diagnosed with cervical cancer or precancer can stop having Pap smears as long as they have had three negative tests within the past 10 years.
Screening for cholesterol and prevention of heart diseases and conditions.
If your cholesterol level is normal, have it rechecked at least every 5 years. If you have high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, kidney problems, or certain other conditions, you may need to be checked more often.
Get yourself checked by a physician every year. This examination will include checking for your height, weight, and body mass index (BMI). Routine diagnostic tests are not recommended unless your physician finds a problem. During the examination, you may be asked questions regarding your medicines and risk for interactions, alcohol and tobacco use, diet and exercise mental history, depression, etc.
Go to the dentist once or twice every year for an exam and cleaning. Your dentist will evaluate if you have a need for more frequent visits.
Screening for diabetes
If you are 60 or older and in good health, you should be screened for diabetes every 3 years. If you are overweight and have other risk factors for diabetes, ask your provider if you should be screened more often.
Have an eye exam every 1 to 2 years and at least every year if you have diabetes.
Screening for osteoporosis
All women over age 60 should have a bone density test (DEXA scan). Ask your physician which exercises or other interventions can help prevent osteoporosis.
As a woman, you may face numerous challenges in life. You need your health by your side to keep up with these everyday evolving challenges. Let your age not keep you from your health, after all, age is just a number.
“Wrinkles will only go where the smiles have been.” – Jimmy Buffet
Author: Dr Pooja Nilgar (Content writer and editor)
- Horwath, C., Kouris‐Blazos, A., Savige, G.S. and Wahlqvist, M.L., 1999. Eating your way to a successful old age, with special reference to older women. Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 8(3), pp.216-225.
- Gupta, N., 2013. Older women in India: Issues and concerns. Ageing, health and development, pp.203-222.
- Kaur, M. and Kaur, J., 2019. Health Issues of Women in Old Age: A Literature Review. AMEI’s Current Trends in Diagnosis & Treatment, 3(1), pp.27-32.