Women by the Decade
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50: PASSION, PLANNING, FUTURE
Women in their 50s are the healthiest, wealthiest, most active and most influential generation of women in history. They are in the prime of their lives. Women in their 50s have spent much of their adult lives taking care of others, now it’s their turn to shine. They deserve to be pampered; they deserve to be celebrated.
C. Suzanne Bates and Jean Ketcham, co-founders of Aging But Dangerous.com—an organization that inspires and empowers women over 50—are encouraging women to unleash their power. “We want to start a revolution!," says Ketcham. "Our goal is to stir our members into taking action and fulfill their long-suppressed dreams.” Members have gone skydiving, modeled in fashion shows, traveled to Florida, and converged on a tattoo parlor. There are more than 1,000 members in seven countries, meeting once a month for fun, socializing, education, and support. "We support women in reducing their ‘but,’” Bates explains. “Between 45 and 50, many women’s “buts” start to grow. By the time they’re into their 50s, the “big but” syndrome has a firm grasp on their lives. ‘I would love to travel 'but' …, I would take an exercise class 'but'…, I've always wanted red hair ‘but' … Aging But Dangerous.com is changing the way women over 50 are perceived by changing the way they perceive themselves."
An active social life can keep women in their 50s feeling youthful, as can exercise. Exercise can regulate cholesterol, control weight, strengthen bones, lower cancer risk, ease depression, and minimize the unpleasant symptoms of “The Big M”—menopause—which can hit as early as 40 and as late as 60, but happens most often around the age of 51. Women in this age group have the time to exercise, and the support of their families behind them.
"I'm coaching a 57-year-old and a 62-year-old to run their very first full marathon this year," says Chris Hesse-Withbroe of Tenacity Fitness. "These women have sacrificed for years while raising their children—cheering at their sporting events or musical recitals—and now they are excited that their kids and grandkids are going to be ringing cowbells for them along the marathon course. These women are setting a fabulous example of goal-setting, hard training and accomplishing goals for the younger generations of their families!"
Women who are "Fifty and Fabulous (and Fun, and Feisty!)" can take care of their skin by hydrating regularly (think green tea, coffee, or naturally-flavored seltzer water with orange or lemon slices or eating foods rich in Vitamin C), using a daily moisturizer with a high SPF, and talking to their dermatologist about treatment options for sun damage or deep lines and wrinkles. There are many ways to look as good as you feel. Do what it takes to radiate confidence. You deserve it.
Karen, 52, Professional Fundraising Auctioneer
What do you notice now that you didn’t in the past? I have become more thankful and grateful for the challenges and struggles in life. I learned things in adversity that I would never have without hardships.
Do you take vitamins? I take natural supplements on a consistent basis, up to three times a day.
Do you have a special skincare routine? I drink a gallon of water daily, and four times a year I get a micropeel to exfoliate my skin.
Do you have a regular fitness and health routine? After the birth of my last child, 26 years ago, I tipped the scale at 212 pounds. I managed to drop 75 pounds and keep it off by a routine of walking one hour and 15 minutes a day, and lifting light weights three times a week. I have tried yoga and pilates, but staying still is not one of my virtues. I must keep moving.
What do you enjoy most about this stage of your life? The joy of knowing that I am making a difference. When you realize that you have lived, loved and matter, this is the most precious gift you can give to yourself and the world.
What is the most challenging? Being in a performance career, I must always be positive, upbeat, and energetic. Some days this is challenging.
What advice would you give the 20-year-old you used to be? Whenever you make a mistake or get knocked down by life, don’t look back at it too long. Mistakes are life’s way of teaching you.
60: RETIREMENT, TRAVEL, SOCIAL LIFE
People today are living longer than in any other time in history. There is better healthcare treatment and prevention, better medical technology, better research. Not only is it possible to increase the number of years you live, it is equally possible to be more productive and energetic across these years.
Gone are the images of retirees sitting idly in their rocking chairs on the front porch, watching the world go by. Today’s retirees are active participants in their lives, benefiting from good nutrition and exercise (while keeping heart disease, osteoporosis, and some types of cancer at bay), taking classes, learning new hobbies, traveling, volunteering, spending time with their friends and family (chasing after the grandkids), and doing the activities they love. This generation is "younger in spirit" than their mother's generation, and more likely to push stereotypes and boundaries.
According to the Stella Silver Survey, "86 percent of women over 60 are happy with their lives."
That 86 percent is most likely exercising to ward off weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, or dementia; getting enough beauty sleep; visiting the dentist on a regular basis (dental health is closely linked with overall health, and gum disease—which becomes more common as you age—has been associated with a higher risk of heart disease); eating healthy; and constantly switching things up in the style and fashion departments (the bigget mistake can be when a woman is stagnant in these departments. Evolve with the times!)
And some day, when these smart, hardworking, dedicated women are ready to move out of their homes, communities like Crest View Senior Communities—a faith-based not-for-profit organization— can provide senior housing and skilled care services. Crest View has five buildings in Columbia Heights (four on campus and another just a mile away), and are currently developing a senior community in Blaine. You choose how you live and change it as you desire (you can add meal preparation, housekeeping and linen service, personal care assistance, underground parking, a roommate, an escort to the mall, etc. at any time). Crest View Senior Community locations are close to shopping, churches, medical services and more.
“There’s a tremendous sense of community and family at Crest View,” says Shirley Barnes, CEO. “We like to say that we create new memories with people. We believe it is a privilege to serve older adults and we are blessed to serve people in our ministry.”
According to a new study by British and U.S. researchers, if people are still physically fit at age 70, they are on average as happy and mentally healthy as a 20-year old. Many consider retirement the happiest years of their life.
Mary, 62, Childcare Provider
What do you worry about? I worry about the future of our children and grandchildren. I worry about whether education these days will be good enough and accessible enough for everyone and whether it will prepare them for a successful and fulfilling future. I worry about my retirement, that Social Security and Medicare won't be around when I need it.
Do you have a special skincare routine? My skincare routine includes good cleansing and moisturizing, and being somewhat mindful of the sun.
Do you have a special fitness and health routine? I try to eat well. My main fitness routine is keeping up with the infants, toddlers, and preschoolers in my life. If I have any energy after that, I like to walk.
What do you enjoy most about this stage of your life? My family. I love seeing what awesome adults my children have become, what good choices they have made, and what terrific parents they are. I love having my husband healthy and by my side. I really value the good friendships I've made over the years.
What is the most challenging? Health issues and body limitations (arthritis, I'm talking to you!).
What advice would you give the 20-year-old you used to be? Be mindful of how important your family and friends are—and nurture those relationships. Realize that material things will not bring you happiness. And most importantly, don't sweat the small stuff.