Turning 50 brings about multiple changes in a woman’s life. First, she is likely to be experiencing changes in her family. Some women have children who are leaving home for the first time. Other women are becoming grandmothers at this age, and some women have to say goodbye to old relationships whether due to death or divorce.
Not only are there social changes happening in her life but there are physical changes as well. As she stares in the mirror at the reflection staring back, she might notice a few more lines around her eyes and mouth; her skin may be a little looser in some places, and those ever-present gray strands of hair may be multiplying faster than she can keep up.
Menopausal symptoms may be reaching their peak for some women, causing them to endure classic, hallmark signs including hot flashes, weight gain, weaker bones, mood swings, and insomnia to name a few.
All of these things may sound tragic and leave aging women feeling a bit skeptical about entering the second phase of their life. However, she should know that aging is a time to flourish, thrive and do great things. It is a great time to come into your own and reach new heights that you might have never dreamed of achieving as a younger woman.
Age is indeed just a number. What you make of your older years is up to you. Yes, change can be challenging, different, perplexing, unique and on occasion devastating. On the other hand, change opens new doors and presents us with opportunities that we might never consider otherwise.
Aging should not preclude you from aiming for or accomplishing something great.
Flourishing with Age
Let’s examine the meaning of the word flourish. What does this word mean? Flourishing carries multiple meanings. Flourishing means to be successful, to thrive, to achieve significant things. It is a positive word that describes our ability to live at the highest level.
We can evoke positive emotions, participate in positive activities and relationships that have meaning and purpose. Studies show that older adults who exhibit human flourishing have positive mental and physical outcomes. Further, flourishing can be an indicator of our mental wellness too.
Women have several things that are working in their favor that women in their 20s and 30s sometimes struggle with in spite of the changes she is experiencing in her 50s.
As a woman in her 50s, you are likely to have far more confidence in who you are despite the internal and external changes that are taking place. A woman in her 50’s rarely (though on occasion) is in need of the validation of the opposite sex, peers, or family of her decisions. Instead, your primary focus will more than likely be to get the support of your family, friends, and co-workers.
In your 50’s you are likely to speak freely. By now, you know that there’s not a lot of time to tread lightly. That is not to say that you won’t just pick your battles and stay quiet on some issues, but if asked, you are far more likely say it as you mean it.
Patience is Your Virtue
With age comes patience for most women. Don’t be surprised if you find that you can demonstrate and exude compassion or empathy for others who might be having a more difficult time in life or making foolish mistakes.
She Knows Her Beauty
Though her age may be making itself known in a variety of ways physically, your goals are likely to be more important to you
When we are flourishing, we can leverage our strengths to a cause that is bigger than us. Older adults who meet the classic definition of flourishing demonstrate personal growth that evolves and is ever changing according to the Journal of Psychosocial Nursing and Mental Health Services.
Did you know that how you feel about aging may determine how fast you age? According to an article in Psychology Today, researchers in Ireland identified that those with positive attitudes about aging are less likely to become frail. Their beliefs keep their minds sharp.
Those who swim in negativity about growing older may experience physical and cognitive problems in their later years.
Flourishing later in life has close ties to the people you keep in your life whether they are your co-workers, friends, family, or even medical professionals who care for you during the emergence of health problems or crises of a chronic health condition.
These people play a vital role in helping to propel or motivate you to achieve an existence in which you are thriving or flourishing.
The Relationship Between Flourishing and Purpose
There is some misconception that our aging has everything to do with our ability to survive year to year without a hiccup. Our ability to flourish depends on more significant things in our lives including our capacity to find our purpose.
Do you know your purpose?
If you know your purpose, then you are among the select few who can explain and potentially further explore why you are here and what it is you are meant to be doing. Also, you have a unique grasp of how it is your purpose is intended to not only help you but how it will contribute to the well-being of others.
What Do We Need to Flourish Later in Life?
As we embark on the second half of our lives, there is quite a bit of introspection and reflection that takes place. Flourishing does not occur by chance. They are a few critical variables that figure into this equation of happiness and late-life satisfaction. We have hinted at a few of those things already in this report but let’s take a deeper dive.
Martin Seligman’s theoretical model of happiness (PERMA) Model identifies five crucial elements that are necessary for us to flourish or to lead a life that is a cup that flows over with joy.
The PERMA model starts with the importance of positivity. Positivity is more than constant affirmations or forced smiles intended to provoke positive thoughts. Instead, it is the ability to promote optimism within yourself and look back on your past, live in your present and view your future in a positive light. This ability to see things through a positive lens can significantly alter the way in which you engage other human beings in your life including the workplace and home life.
Your ability to promote the good and not get stuck in the valley of the bad can significantly reduce your risk for mood swings that generate feelings of depression, anxiety, or anger.
Finding your happiness can serve as a foundation for creativity and stimulate your intellect. Also, it can enable you to persevere during hard times and problem-solve in an efficient manner.
The next letter in this acronym is the letter “e” for engagement. Engagement is all about our ability to commit to learning, growth, and immersion in those things that feed our happiness. Think of the hobby that gives you the greatest joy that feeds your soul. Perhaps there is an activity particularly enjoy doing most such as playing the piano for your friends, volunteering your time to read to children or just digging in your vegetable garden.
To flourish, we need something in our lives that is fulfilling and allows us to live in the moment while also allowing us to apply our past and current knowledge, skills, abilities. Your goal should be to do these things well and to do them frequently.
Our next element has everything to do with the people in your life. Your social life as an older adult is essential to your mental and physical wellness. Women naturally have a penchant for relationship strengths.
They tend to keep a close network of friends or acquaintances that they trust to be their sounding boards, exhibit empathy and compassion when necessary and function as a source of empowerment. Do not minimize the importance of this particular facet of your life.
This time is where you have the opportunity to build on your relationships, aiming for positive bonds with friends, siblings, parents, and your children. Your relationships can be your support in the midst of an unexpected life storm.
Meaning and Purpose
This next element is possibly one of the most critical items that we must be in tune with to flourish. Knowing your purpose and meaning in life is the thing that gives us purpose and holds the key to our happiness more than we know. Sure, several motivating factors may drive us to want more money.
We all have basic needs such as housing, transportation or putting food on the table. However, our true meaning is the one thing that gives us pleasure. As we age, that purpose becomes that much more important to us.
The final element in the PERMA acronym is accomplishments. Just because we are aging, it does not mean we lose or give up on creating goals or ambitions for achievements. Accomplishment is still an essential aspect of our lives and is a necessary component that enables us to thrive and flourish.
Is it realistic to expect you have this extraordinary opportunity to flourish later in life if you didn’t quite hit your mark earlier in life? Absolutely! With age comes the wisdom that enables you to thrive.
Women can tackle some difficult decisions as they age. Many of them have to make huge decisions about healthcare for themselves or their significant other, management of budgets, and everyday household or business decisions. You can make better decisions and resolutions to things you could not see so clearly until now.
Forgiveness and Flourishing
Never underestimate the importance of forgiveness. It is a must-have for your plans to thrive and flourish later in life. Forgiveness is a positive opportunity that with age, enables us to find a bit of selfish optimism.
We cannot only see the shortcomings of others but can validate it within ourselves. Forgiveness helps us to not wallow in anger, self-pity, rage, sadness and a host of other emotions that can block us from flourishing at the highest of levels.
Arriving at a place of forgiveness is not as easy as the words above might indicate –especially when it has everything to do with others who have hurt us in some damaging way that harms us physically or mentally. However, the trek down this path can bring its own set of rewards to us including mental and physical wellness.
Health and Flourishing
Flourishing demands that we make our health a priority. Ask any woman over 50 who is living her best life, and she will talk about how she doesn’t even think about her age because she feels as good as she did in her thirties and forties.
Here are a few healthy aging habits that will help you thrive.
Keep Your Diet Healthy
As you age, it becomes that much more essential for us to guard our bodies and protect it from food that will not serve it well. Aging makes us more susceptible to food poisoning and food illness. Also, it increases our risk for chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes.
Get a Fitness Regimen
If you are not a fan of working out, you may want to find some form of physical fitness that will improve your tolerance of physical activity, muscle tone, and bone strength. Exercise may seem nearly impossible for the aging woman who still has a full-time job, but you can carve out 30 minutes a day to do some form of physical activity.
You can do it in ten-minute increments if that’s easier or all once. Remember, physical fitness does not require a gym membership. You can join a dance class, take up Zumba, swimming, water aerobics, or a walk around your neighborhood.
Ladies now is the time to shed those unwanted pounds that are weighing you down and placing undue strain on your bones. As we age, excess weight creates much risk for debilitating health conditions and can have a damaging effect on our mental wellness. Changing your diet and boosting your fitness activity can help you to get on the path to shedding pounds. Get professional help if you find that devising and plan and sticking to it becomes too difficult to achieve.
Keep up with Your Preventative Health Screenings
Do not skip out on your preventative screenings. Mammograms, colon cancer screenings, HIV testing, lipids panel, metabolic panels, and well-woman checks are necessary actions that every woman over 50 should ensure she actively manages and schedules a time to complete. Get your vaccines on schedule –including your flu vaccine. Your body is depending on you not to shortchange it.
Manage Your Health
If you are suffering from conditions like osteoporosis, diabetes, high blood pressure or depression, prioritize managing it and see attention from your physician if your medications are not working properly or causing symptoms that leave you feeling miserable and likely not to comply with the prescribed medication regimen.
Hot flashes, insomnia, depression, anxiety, fatigue and other symptoms that accompany perimenopause and menopause are manageable symptoms that nearly two million women experience each year. The key to surviving menopause is for women to manage the symptoms and take good care of their bodies.
In addition to participating in a physical regimen, women are also encouraged to practice stress relieving activities that improve mental wellness such as meditation or yoga.
Women can also use their diet to relieve menopausal symptoms. A plant-based diet may be a fantastic, alternative for women who would prefer not to use traditional hormone replacement therapy. Plant foods contain plant-based estrogen compounds known as phytoestrogens which resemble “regular” estrogen circulating in our body and can help to regulate estrogen flowing throughout our bodies.
Foods that Relieve Menopausal Symptoms
There are several kinds of foods you can consume to relieve some of those pesky, unwanted menopausal symptoms you may be experiencing. Keep in mind that as you embark on your natural remedy for menopausal symptoms, you may not see any relief for 60 to 90 days.
It takes a little time for the body to transition and recognizes these phytoestrogens. There is good news here. Once your body does adjust, you will notice the change and that will motivate you to comply with your new diet regimen.
Strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries are ripe with antioxidants, vitamin C, and improve your immunity. Also, they can do wonders in helping you to manage hot flashes.
Chickpeas are full of protein and fiber and support blood sugar control which is also essential for women as they age. They contain powerful levels of plant estrogens and will prove supportive in your quest to naturally add estrogen to your body.
Flaxseeds are tiny gems that may prove beneficial in aiding you in your fight against hot flashes. They contain a lot of fiber so, take it easy when consuming this item. Sprinkle a little on your salad.
Lentils, much like chickpeas also help to stabilize your blood sugar. They help you to get rid of the “bad” hormones that can contribute to your nasty menopausal mood swings and may help you to lower your cholesterol.
Tofu is another ally in your fight against menopausal symptoms. Tofu can help to stabilize estrogen levels and reduce feelings of fatigue or vaginal dryness.
Eat your veggies. Green, leafy vegetables can help you with keeping the weight gain from finding its way to your mid-section. They are rich with fiber and can help to stave off constipation.
What Foods Should I Avoid during Menopause?
Just as the list of what to eat is important, so is the list of what not to eat. There are some foods and beverages you should temporarily nix from your list. Of course, remember that your efforts to eradicate these foods and drinks from your list should take place over time to avoid failure. Pick a meal and start from there.
Studies show that women who stop consuming caffeine products during menopause experience fewer problems with concentration, mood or memory.
Spicy foods may be the source of your hot flashes if consumed in large quantities so tread carefully. Don’t worry; decreasing your intake of spicy foods does not mean your meals have to taste like cardboard or become mundane. It just means you will have to become creative and use a few more herbs.
Consume alcohol in moderation. Too much alcohol will destroy any dietary strides you are making and may contribute to those dreaded hot flashes.
Adopting a Plant-Based Diet to Remedy Menopausal Symptoms
If you are weighing the pros and cons of changing your diet and have any interest in starting a plant-based lifestyle, remember to set a few realistic goals for yourself before leaping. Start with one meal and slowly increase your plant intake over a period.
Identify the advantages and disadvantages of eating this way. Challenge yourself to examine what steps you will take to stick with your plan to change your lifestyle and way of eating.
Mental Wellness and Flourishing
Your mental well-being is another critical facet of flourishing with age. What is the connection between mental wellness and your ability to thrive? According to New Zealand’s Mental Health Foundation, positive mental health allows for the following.
Emotional resilience is your ability to adjust under a cloud of a crisis or stressful situation. Resilient people can readily adapt to a stressful situation. They are flexible and have an inner strength that allows them to leap over just about any hurdle no matter how hard it gets.
Sustainable happiness is the foundation of resilience and our ability to age in the light of positivity. Dr. Catherine O’Brien describes it as being the happiness that contributes to who we are as an individual, community or global being. It does not take advantage of others, the environment, or generations to come in the future.
Improves Physical Health
Your mental health is like a looming figure over your ability to enjoy good physical health. Conditions like depression and anxiety can trigger a variety of physical health issues if you do not seek or adhere to proper treatment.
Depression can rob you of energy or desire to participate in activities that may benefit your overall health or motivation to comply with doctor’s orders to manage your existing health conditions.
Poor mental health impacts your problem-solving capacity which can be dangerous to any chance you have of flourishing at this stage.
Good Mental Health Bolsters Your Strengths
The woman who can own her mental health will thrive on her strengths. A woman’s strengths enable them to be happy and contributes to their lifespan and general physical health. Your strengths support your capacity to flourish. With access to your strengths, you are more likely to be resilient, resourceful, and able to recover in the face of a crisis rapidly.
Women who are mentally healthy can be mindful. Having mindfulness means you can focus on the here and now. You are self-aware and do not spend your time worrying about the future.
As women age, their overall mental health and satisfaction with life also improve. Although there is some initial risk of an increase in the rate of anxiety or depression that may accompany menopause, statistics show that with age, these rates decrease. Many women report they are in fact living a wonderful life that is wrapped in unexpected, positive rewards. They are doing the things they never got the chance to do.
Marital satisfaction is higher during this time, and married women are generally happier in their marriages though some marriages do come to an end as other women seek something more in life.
Tips for Thriving
As you encounter life changes at this stage of your life, if you find that you are not thriving in the way you thought you might be, do not fret. It is not too late to take ownership of your life. There are a few tools you can pull out of the bag to get things back on track.
Rebuild Your Relationships
Evaluate your relationships and start rebuilding where the opportunity lives, and you have an interest. For example, if you are married and are actively experiencing problems in your marriage, now may be the time to rebuild that relationship one-to-one or with the help of a professional counselor.
Is It Time to Change Your Career?
If getting out of bed and going to work day after day feels physically and mentally draining, it might be time for a career change. You could go back to school, get a certificate or talk with your boss about different opportunities in your workplace.
Find Your Joy and Purpose
Have you found your purpose or meaning yet? If so, it’s time to kick it into high gear and if not, it’s time to figure out what it is you are supposed to be doing with your life. It’s time for you to flourish and you cannot do that if you are not living your best life yet. Figure out what it is that motivates you and act on it. Don’t forget to share your talents with the world so that can reap the emotional benefits ten-fold.
In summary, aging women can flourish in their later years in the face of change. To flourish means, you are living in your ultimate state of positivity and sustainable happiness. Women who are flourishing have good mental, physical, and emotional health.
You are a woman who is resilient and clear about who she is after having lived a long life of experiences that have taught you well. You are not one who languishes as this is evidenced by your well-being and ability to always have a favorable outcome in the face of unplanned life-events.
If you are not thriving at this time, you have an opportunity to take action. You must find your purpose, rebuild relationships, evaluate your job satisfaction and live your best life.