Common Women’s Health Concerns in your 50s and 60s
Working with thousands of women over the years, I have seen a common trend in women who are in their 50’s and 60’s…they tend to write off their health concerns as….”just a normal part of aging.” This is sometimes a conclusion that they have come to themselves, or in many cases, something that other health care practitioners have told them. However, this is an important time in a woman’s health. It is a time of transition. A time where her hormones are shifting and therefore her health concerns and health risks are also changing. This is a time period where a woman may start to feel less motivated to take care of herself, but also a time when this is more important than ever!
The biggest concerns for this age group are menopause and with this hormonal change comes a general increased risk of major health issues. At this stage it is vital to keep up with your regular health appointments!
Let’s break down the major health concerns that women in this age group experience:
The most common age of menopause is anywhere between 52 and 56. Menopause is defined as 1 year after your last menstrual period. At this time in a woman’s life hormone levels change dramatically. Estrogen drops and progesterone is no longer produced (or is only produced in very small quantities). This change can cause an array of symptoms including hot flashes, sleep disturbances, joint pain, mood swings, depression and/or anxiety, heart palpitations, weight gain (and changes in body composition), low libido and vaginal dryness. Some women experience all of these symptoms and some don’t notice any. It may be a natural process, but for some women the resulting symptoms can be debilitating and are NOT symptoms that you have to live with!
Whether or not you are a woman who experiences symptoms of menopause, the hormonal changes that a woman experiences, most notably the drop in estrogen, creates many underlying systemic changes. These changes are what causes the dramatic changes in health concerns that affect women from the time of menopause and into their 60’s.
Mental health risks
As a woman’s hormones are changing in perimenopause and menopause her risk of developing depression or anxiety is increased. Hormone changes coupled with dramatic life changes that happen around this time such as children growing up and moving out, job changes, health concerns and aging, dramatically increase her risk of bringing up old mental health challenges or new onset depression and anxiety.
In addition, hypothyroidism is more common to develop in this age group. Women are at increased risk of thyroid disease which can present as depression and should not be ignored!
Heart disease risk
For women, their risk of cardiovascular disease increases dramatically after their transition through menopause. Estrogen protects women against cardiovascular disease compared to men of the same age, until that estrogen falls post menopause at which time her risk of cardiovascular disease significantly raises. Therefore, once a woman is in her 50’s and 60’s it is even more important to adjust diet and lifestyle to protect her against this risk. It is also extremely important at this age to start to monitor for cardiovascular risk factors like cholesterol level and blood pressure more regularly.
With menopause comes changes in body composition and decrease in insulin sensitivity. These changes will increase risk of diabetes in women as they age. This risk isn’t as clear as the cardiovascular disease risk however is still important to monitor and adjust diet and lifestyle in order to prevent. Additionally, the risk is much higher and more clear if you had previously diagnosed with PCOS, or gestational diabetes.
Decreased immune system
The immune system weakens with age which can increase your risk of cold and flu as well as disease….but it doesn’t have to. Proper diet, exercise, vitamins and minerals and decreasing stress can all contribute to as stronger immune system at any age!
Weak skin and hair loss
With age skin becomes more fragile. The skin loses collagen over time and becomes more dry.
With loss of estrogen the changes in skin happen more quickly. In addition, hair becomes dryer and falls out more as estrogen levels drop. But the good news is that supporting nutrient status and proper diet can help with decrease this!
This is not meant to provide a bleak outlook for your health in your 50’s and 60’s, but simply to highlight the health risks that you are faced with so that you have the power to monitor them and modify your health behaviours to prevent them. Risk does NOT mean inevitability. If you have the right health care team, the proper testing, and the right health plan then you can avoid these health conditions or symptoms that can affect women in this age group. Don’t settle for “I guess it is just my age,” because you don’t have to.
We designed our Well Woman Assessments program for women like you. In this program we take you through a well-designed health journey where we address your nutrient status, optimize your digestions, get you on a diet that works for you and decreases inflammation, and balance your hormones. With this program, we get you to better than you were before, no matter what age group you are in!
If you want to take control of your health then book your free alignment call and ask us about our Well Woman Assessments. Book your free Alignment Call HERE.
Dr. Lisa Maddalena, ND