Living Up to Your Age

Valerie Robilio
Public Relations Coordinator
Phone: 901-227-3525
Cell: 901-828-2243
Ayoka Pond
Public Relations Manager
Phone: 901-227-3503
Cell: 901-581-5637

With each generation living longer and women outliving men by several years, a woman’s quality of life depends on how well she feels. So women need to start managing their health at a younger age.

“Age-related conditions - high blood pressure, diabetes, physical aches and pains, obesity, cancer and heart disease - can be minimized by eating heart healthy and getting enough exercise,” says Susan Murrmann, M.D., an obstetrician/gynecologist who works with Baptist Memorial Hospital for Women in Memphis, Tenn.

The choices women make in their 20s and 30s can affect them as they age. Simple things, such as diet and exercise, regardless of how many times you put them off or tell yourself they don’t matter, really make a difference.

“It boils down to eating right and exercise – two main things,” says Murrmann.

That means eating less dessert and maybe changing the way you eat altogether. Murrmann recommends a diet that includes more protein and fewer carbohydrates, especially as you get older. Plus, women need to add other nutrients to their diets.

“The basic dietary things women need to do include watching fats and adding soy, vitamin E and a multivitamin to their daily regimen,” says Melvinie Seymore, M.D., obstetrician/gynecologist who also works with Baptist’s Women’s Hospital.

A sensible diet and exercise, coupled with regular visits to your physician and appropriate health screenings, can help prevent diseases and lead to early detection and treatment. Seymore also recommends women do preventive things, such as keeping a family history.

“I tell my patients that’s their legacy – leave that information for your family,” says Seymore.

Knowing your family history allows you and your children to know your health risks and what to avoid. Another factor that affects women as they age is stress.

"The older you get, the more stress you have – relationship stresses, financial stresses, technological stresses,” says Murrmann. “People get overwhelmed by it.”

“We live in such a fast-moving society – taking care of families and children. For many us, we’re also taking care of parents,” says Seymore. “The best way to take care of these things is to take care of yourself. Take a half a day of downtime for yourself. Most of the time we’re so busy reacting to the needs of others that we don’t assess our own needs.”

Because stress is an inevitable part of life, especially for women, the key is learning how to deal with it. Murrmann recommends that women choose role models to help them manage the stresses of life and to guide them through the years as they age.

“Overall, set goals for each decade of your life,” says Murrmann. “Choose role models and mentors, several different ones – someone that’s in good shape, eats well or is a good mother to their family.”

Having a picture of good health and well-being clearly in mind can help women stay focused, make wise decisions and plan for the rest of their lives, especially as they age.

“I recommend women plan for retirement – think about what you want to do for your second job, the second half of your life,” says Seymore. “Most people are living into their 80s – 20 to 30 years after their children are gone. This is the time to turn a hobby into a moneymaking venture. Take stock of what you want to do. People who have no plans tend to sit down and wait to die.”

Another thing that can help women make wise health decisions as they age is gaining as much knowledge as they can about themselves and their bodies. This is especially helpful for women facing menopause.

“As far as menopause is concerned, knowledge is power,” says Murrmann. “If you know and research what is going on and discuss that with your physician, you can make better choices of how to navigate change. Have a good attitude about change, eat right and exercise. You’ll have a better time navigating change.”

Women can find health information and other lifestyle tips at their local library, bookstores or hospital libraries, such as the Dr. Sam P. Patterson Library at Baptist’s Women’s Hospital. The Patterson library also offers free seminars on health and wellness issues that affect every aspect of a woman’s life.

Also, both Murrmann and Seymore recommend that patients develop a relationship with their physicians. While most women start out with an obstetrician/gynecologist, they also need to have an internist as they age.

The key to staying healthy as you age is pretty simple – live for tomorrow today. Eat right. Exercise. See a physician regularly. Reduce stress. Just be proactive about your health. If you do these things, you will age gracefully and more importantly, happily.


Daily Bread