Everyone ages differently. It depends on a lot of individual factors like health or relationships or attitude. But there are some very specific challenges that face women as we age.
Here are some examples and how loved ones can help.
Menopause: The production of estrogen and progesterone decreases and often leads to a range of physical and emotional symptoms.
Bone health: Women are more prone to osteoporosis than men.
Heart health: Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in many countries.
How to help:
Encourage regular screenings. Women should have an annual checkup, even if they feel well. It might help alleviate your loved one's anxiety if you offer to accompany her.
Advocate for her needs. Your loved one might need help navigating the health care system or communicating with these services. You can help make sure she is heard.
Mental Health & Elder Abuse
Studies in numerous countries have shown that older women are more likely than older men to experience stress, depression and anxiety. The causes can include hormonal changes, caregiving responsibilities and social isolation.
Older women may also be more vulnerable to developing cognitive impairment, such as dementia. This is partly because women tend to live longer than men, and age is a significant risk factor for cognitive decline.
These and other factors mean older women are more susceptible to elder abuse. According to the World Health Organization, it may take the form of “physical, sexual, psychological and emotional abuse; financial and material abuse; abandonment; neglect; and serious loss of dignity and respect.”
How to help:
Address safety concerns. Keep an eye out for signs of abuse, and speak up if you suspect your loved one is in danger. If necessary, help her find a safe place to stay and connect her with resources to address the abuse.
Stay connected. Be in regular contact with your loved one, and provide or suggest opportunities for social interaction.
Support her independence. While offering help is important, do what you can to support your loved one’s independence. Encourage her to continue participating in activities and hobbies she enjoys. You can also help her adapt her home for safe living.
Supporting and advocating for women as they age requires patience, empathy and a willingness to listen and respond to their needs. By being there for your loved one, you can help her maintain her health, safety and well-being.
Lauren Miller is the owner of Right at Home, which provides a wide range of in-home care options for seniors and adults with disabilities. Whether it’s helping with dressing and hygiene, providing medication reminders or simply providing transportation to medical appointments, Right at Home’s dedicated caregivers can help you or your loved one navigate life.