A WHO report on Women, Ageing and Health – A Framework For Action 2007, states that ageing men and women share basic concerns of shelter, food, access to health services, dignity, independence and freedom from abuse.
Below are some of the interesting findings from the report
- When judged in terms of the likelihood of being poor, vulnerable and lacking in access to affordable healthcare, older women merit special attention. Older women refer to women aged 50+. Privileged women remain free from health concerns until into 70’s and 80’s. Women who endure a lifetime of poverty, malnutrition and heavy labour, chronologically young though functionally old, age by 40.
- Ageing influences biological and social construct, physiological changes- bone density; visual acuity, socio-economical alterations – living arrangements; income; access to healthcare.
- The number of women aged 60 in 2000 was 336 million and by 2050 will rise just over a billion.
- The fastest-growing group among women is 80+. Worldwide there are 189 women for every 100 men. By age of 100, the gap reaches 385 women for every 100 men.
- While most ageing women remain healthy and independent, the ‘very-old’ require chronic care and help with day-to-day activities.
Factors increasing women’s vulnerability to poor health in older age
- Gender discrimination for access to food and care.
- Restrictions on education
- Childbirth without adequate healthcare support
- Caregiving as mothering, grandmothering, for spouse and older parents that restricts working for income and employee-based pension.
- Domestic violence- at childhood, in marriage and as elder abuse.
- Widowhood resulting in loss of income and social isolation.
- Cultural traditions, attitudes restricting older women access to health care.
Do’s for women
- Stay physically active for a healthy body and mind.
- Stay socially active with friends, family, community.
- Follow a healthy balanced diet.
- Schedule check-ups and follow.
- Take medications as directed by the doctor along with periodic medication review.
- Limit alcohol consumption.
- Quit smoking, lower risk of cancer, heart disease.
- Get a night of good sleep.
- Practice dental hygiene to manage chronic inflammatory conditions like diabetes and heart disease.
Ageing accompanies mental and physical changes
- Skeletal- Bones become thinner and brittle- osteoporosis. Low bone mass raising the risk of broken bones and vertebrae.
- Heart- Arteries becoming stiffer- arteriosclerosis, leading to high BP, a build-up of plaque in arteries of heart- coronary heart disease.
- Brain- Forgetfulness, difficulty in processing new information, multitasking- dementia.
- Digestion- Digestive tract issues, constipation owing to stress, lack of fibre and fluids, physical activity.
- Senses- Hearing loss, dull vision, fading of taste, sense of smell and an overall reduction in sense of touch, pain, pressure and vibration.
- Dental- Teeth and gums wear leading to cavities, cracks to the outer surface of the tooth.
- Skin wrinkles making you prone to skin cancer.
- Sexual activity reduces, menopause, drop in oestrogen levels.
These changes are a natural part of ageing and shouldn’t slow you down necessarily. There’s a lot one CAN do to keep one’s body healthy AND active. So stay healthy!