(BPT) – By now you’ve probably heard the saying “the 50s are the new 30s,” and you may have even adopted that thinking for your own life. The motto doesn’t just mean people are living longer, but that they’re also maintaining a youthful perspective on life. While a positive attitude can be good for your overall health, it’s also important to realize your physical needs change over time. Staying healthy, happy and active after the half-century mark requires paying attention to those changes — especially for women.
Of course menopause is the health change many women think about most when they’re in their 50s, but it’s not the only change affecting your body and well-being. Here are three health factors women age 55 and older should pay attention to in order to be as healthy as possible:
Heart disease doesn’t only affect men; each year, it claims the lives of as many women as men, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Age is one of the factors that increase heart disease risks for both sexes.
It’s important to be aware of things that can elevate your risk, such as being overweight, smoking or having uncontrolled high blood pressure. Since many women don’t have symptoms or realize they have heart disease until they experience a heart attack or stroke, it’s important to talk to your doctor about your risks. He or she can help you understand what lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your risk of heart disease.
Your eyes will go through changes throughout your lifetime, some short-term, some gradual, and others more permanent or even sudden. Some changes in vision are normal, such as needing reading glasses. Other changes may be a sign of a more serious problem. You should discuss vision concerns with your eye doctor, and have regular eye exams to stay on top of changes. Also, be aware that through examination of the retina during eye exams, eye doctors are often first to detect heart disease, hypertension and many other health problems.
Vision insurance is an important tool for maintaining eye health; people who have insurance are more likely to have regular eye exams, according to the CDC. If you don’t have access to employer-sponsored vision insurance, you can find affordable individual vision plans from VSP Direct. Plans start as low as $ 14 per month, depending on where you live.
If you’ve always been diligent about having annual physicals, good for you! If not, it’s high time to start. During your physicals, your doctor probably did blood screening for conditions like diabetes and took your blood pressure to screen for hyper-tension. Be aware that as you grow older, your doctor may recommend additional routine screenings that can help detect problems in their earliest stages, when they’re most treatable.
Commonly recommended screenings for women in their 50s include annual mammograms, pap smears, cholesterol, diabetes, colorectal cancer screening, HPV test and bone density screening. Talk to your doctor about your risk factors for different conditions and which screens he or she recommends for you.
You may find life slowing down a bit in your 50s, especially if you’re an empty nester; you may actually have more time to devote to your own health than you did when you were younger! Focusing more on your health as you grow older can help ensure you feel as great in your 50s as you did in your 30s.
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