Health

Health Issues That Affect Older Women – Are You At Risk?

Both men and women have a higher risk of all sorts of different health problems as they get older. There are a lot of problems that are specific to older women. One of the best ways to stay healthy as you get older is to know what the risks are in the first place. By familiarising yourself with them, you can take steps to avoid them. Around 55% of the population is women and they have a higher average life expectancy than men (81 years compared with 76 years).

Living longer means that women are more likely to develop health conditions than men. Looking after your health properly is extremely important, especially for this reason. If you’re concerned about your health as you get older, you might find interest in this article. These are some of the most common issues affecting women that you need to be aware of.

Your Health and Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer Awareness: Your breasts and health risks associated with them

Photo by Miguel Á. Padriñán from Pexels

This is one that you probably already know about because a lot of time and money goes into awareness campaigns. Breast cancer is the leading cancer in women. As you age, your risk of developing it goes up a lot. There is a 1 in 8 chance that a woman will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. That means that this is something that you need to be vigilant about. The good news is, treatments are improving so much. If you catch it early enough, your chances of successful treatment are high.

That’s why breast checks are absolutely key. You should be checking yourself every month at least, if not more. If you notice anything unusual like a lump or a change in the shape of some kind, it’s important that you see the doctor right away. The majority of lumps aren’t cancerous so there’s no need to panic immediately. It’s just important that you get it checked out as soon as possible in case it is cancer. Even if you don’t find anything, it’s still worth getting checked by a doctor to be extra sure.

The Menopause and how it affects your health

The menopause is a natural part of ageing for all women, but a lot of people are quite apprehensive about it. The menopause simply refers to the period in your life when you stop menstruating. That, and all of the changes that might come along with that. There are a lot of symptoms that you might experience in the lead up to the menopause as well as during and after. If you experience hot flushes, changes to your cycle, weight gain, and mood swings, these are all signs that the menopause is on its way. It affects everybody in different ways and, while most women experience it somewhere around their 50s, it can come early or late.

Not everybody has the symptoms either, some people might not have any at all while others have just a few and some people have lots of different symptoms. It can be a difficult period and if there are any symptoms that you are unsure about, you should speak with your doctor just in case and they may offer you some kind of hormone therapy to ease the transition. However, a lot of the time, it’s just a case of waiting until the symptoms have passed.

Contraception

Contraception pills and your health

If the menopause comes late for you or you decide that you don’t want to have any more children, you may want to look into more permanent contraception methods. It just makes life easier for you because you don’t need to worry about contraception and it eliminates the chances of accidental pregnancy. If your partner isn’t having a vasectomy then you need to look into tubal ligation instead. It’s a fairly simple operation and although you’ll have to go under anaesthetic, you should only need to stay in the hospital for a few hours afterwards before you can go home. In the days following the operation, you may experience some bleeding, a sore throat, shoulder pain, and some bloating. These side effects should only last a few days but if they persist, you need to see the doctor.

Osteoporosis and Bone Health

Your body is always going to suffer from wear and tear over the years and your mobility won’t be as good. But there is a difference between general wear and tear and a more serious health condition. Osteoporosis develops when your body doesn’t grow enough new bone to replace bone that you lose. They become brittle and they’re more prone to breaking.

When you have osteoporosis, your bones have a honeycomb-like structure rather than a solid structure. This means they break a lot easier. It can be quite serious because your hips and spine are the most likely bones to break if you have the condition. Osteoporosis disproportionately affects women, especially those over 50, so it’s something that you need to be on the lookout for. It tends to happen naturally over time because your body is not as efficient at building new bone. There are some external causes as well. Certain medications can make the problem worse so it’s a good idea to speak with your doctor and see if there is a potential risk of osteoporosis when you’re starting a new medication. Poor diet is another big factor so it’s important to focus on Calcium intake.

Diabetes

Look after your health by doing regular sugar level checks.

The number of people that have diabetes is rising fast. A large percentage of the people that are diagnosed (around 25%) are older people. Although women and men have the same level of risk when it comes to diabetes, it’s important that you are aware of it.

Diet is one of the biggest factors. Simply because if you’re eating a lot of sugar, it can cause you to develop diabetes. When trying to cut down on sugar, cutting out all of the obvious things like chocolate or soda is obvious. However, it’s important to remember that we get caught out by foods that we think are healthy but actually aren’t. Always check the label on anything that is advertised as low fat or fat-free. They often add sugar to make up for the taste. Things like fruit juice are just as bad as soda as well, so it’s best to stick to water instead.

Older women have a much higher risk of developing these health problems. Therefore it’s important that you know what the risks are and you take steps to manage them. Self-care also means taking care of your health by being safe, rather than sorry. If you have experience with any of the above health issues, I’d love to hear from you!

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South African Lifestyle Blogger. Blogging in the fields of Lifestyle, Relationships, Parenting, Health and Psychology.

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2 Comments

  • Naomi (Inching Forwards)

    Thank you for writing this! I’ve seen so much recently about how much medical stuff is exclusively geared towards men (and why that’s really harmful to women) that I think this is a really timely and practical post. Really enjoyed it 💛

  • Susan Nies

    Thank you for raising awareness for breast cancer. I was so busy with my life that I didn’t slow down and do my self-checks or mammograms. If you want to guide people to my website I am sure my blog will serve as a cautionary tale! 9 months of fighting and no boobs later I will be done with my last radiation next Tuesday!!!

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