Use primer before applying make-up
Primer helps tame the natural oils in your skin, helping makeup go on smoothly and remain in place for longer. If you’ve not yet used primer, try it: it’s a game changer, even if you don’t have particularly oily skin. It’s especially useful when applied beneath eye shadow because the skin of the eye lids thins with age, which can easily make eyeshadow appear uneven or blotchy.
Whiten your teeth
No, we don’t mean either a full on Hollywood smile or the sort of veneers that require you first to have your own teeth filed down to tiny points. Even a home DIY kit or a visit to a cosmetic dentist can achieve impressive results. Remember, teeth naturally darken with age and, without help, the effects of tea, coffee and red wine can exacerbate this.
Learn about menopause
For a natural process that affects 50% of the human population, we are still woefully under informed about both the perimenopause and menopause itself. Take charge of the issue itself and learn all you can about it. For instance, what are the signs to watch out for? How can you control the symptoms? Talk to older friends and family members – and, in turn, don’t forget to share your knowledge with younger women.
Always wear sunscreen
It’s never too late to start wearing sunscreen. While you won’t reverse the effects of years of sunbathing, you can help arrest further damage to your skin. Make applying an SPF facial moisturizer part of your regular morning routine to protect yourself from UV rays and so reduce the risk of skin cancer – and also to slow down the appearance of the wrinkles and dark spots that are part of the ageing process.
Use Hyaluronic acid
When it comes to skincare, you might always have been a wash and go sort of a gal. However, if the fine lines around your eyes and mouth are starting to bother you, consider using hyaluronic acid. It’s a serum that’s been described as a bit like pushing the factory reset button. If used regularly, you should start to see an improvement in your skin’s texture and condition.
Get scalp massages to combat thinning hair
Thinning hair is another unwelcome change that frequently accompanies natural ageing. However, it isn’t one that you just need to accept. There’s good evidence to suggest that regular scalp massages can help stimulate the hair follicles and produce new hair growth, so helping to combat hair loss.
Change up your part
Have you had the same part in your hair for as long as you can remember? While it’s true that most people’s part naturally falls in one particular place on their scalp, that’s not to say that you can’t switch things up a little. Why not experiment with moving your part to the side or even doing a zig-zag part? Ask your hairstylist for advice if you’re unsure.
As the ovaries stop producing estrogen and the body’s own estrogen reserves (circulating in the blood and stored in fat tissue) are used up, many women experience classic menopause symptoms of hot flushes, insomnia, brain fog, reduced libido, joint pain, and so on. HRT frequently really helps ease these symptoms – and so it’s well worth learning about the different options, even if you decide HRT isn’t for you.
Estrogen plays an important role in maintaining bone density. Consequently, as estrogen drops with the menopause, bone density also declines. This increases the risk of osteoporosis and fractures. Strength training helps combat this. It also promotes muscle mass, which is something else that naturally declines with age.
While you don’t need to go full-on Marie Kondo, decluttering your home has more than one benefit. It’s easier to move house if you’re not gloomily contemplating rooms stacked with unsorted possessions. A decluttered, well-ordered home is also a more restful one that’s more pleasant to spend time in.
Taking primary responsibility for your own health is sensible. As part of this, ensure you get an annual physical check-up. It’s the ideal way to alert you and your doctor to potential health problems and can offer useful suggestions on helpful lifestyle changes. As well as blood count, cholesterol, blood pressure and so on, a health check for a woman over 50 should also include a mammogram and a Pap smear.
Get a good purse
Like most of us, you might not have the cash to splash on a Chanel. However, a quality purse says something about a woman – and especially about a woman in her mid-life years. It suggests you value quality, know what you like and aren’t afraid to show it. And it doesn’t have to be a designer purse either; there are plenty of excellently-made purses available from small sellers. Or why not look at vintage?
Annual flu shot
Flu is a potential killer – and, as a rule, the risks of suffering significant complications from a bout of influenza rise as you get olde. With this in mind, getting your annual flu shot before the start of flu season ought to be a no-brainer. It won’t necessarily stop you contracting the illness but it’s likely to reduce the severity and duration.
Don’t wait, do it now
It’s become a cliche but “carpe diem” and its English translations mean more than just seizing the moment and doing something right now. The phrase also encourages you to focus on – and to value – the present (as it’s the only time any of us can be sure of having) and not constantly looking ahead to some possible, hoped-for future.
Eat more fiber
As a general rule, the risk of bowel cancer rises with age – and, worldwide, more than 90% of cases are diagnosed in people over 50. This is why, although it’s not the most common cancer among women (that unwelcome crown goes to breast cancer), it’s still well worth taking steps to reduce your risk. One such key step is to increase the quantity of fiber in your diet.
Follow your passion
Are you doing what you most want to do? The statistics say that you’re not. Perhaps there’s a good reason for that: perhaps you’re constrained by work, finances or family – but are you sure it’s not possible to think creatively and find a way to do at least a little of what most inspires you?
Check your bra size
The majority of women wear the wrong size bra. If the back rides up, there’s room in the cups, or the wires dig in, you’re almost certainly in the wrong size. Even if you think you’re fine, it’s sensible to check every six months or so. Pregnancy isn’t the only time that breast size changes. Menopause can also have a significant effect and, of course, so can general weight gain and loss.
Keep making friends
Making friends is a skill or talent that some people are very good at and others struggle with. Regardless of which category you’d place yourself in, it’s also a skill that’s important to develop and maintain. Making new friends can be important when existing friends move or grow apart from you. New friends are good for your mental health, keep you engaged with the world around you.
Embrace the body you have
Few of us are truly happy with the body we live in. Women often really struggle with this around the time of menopause, when changes to body shape, size and metabolic rate are common. It’s easier said than done but learning to grateful for the body that’s brought you to this point in life is great for your mental health and means you’re less likely to waste time and money on crank diets or cosmetic surgery.
Many of us fear dementia. However, even in your 50s, there are steps you can take to help stave off this most feared condition. Taking care of your hearing is one of those steps. Research shows that mid-life hearing loss is a significant predictor of later life dementia. Luckily, those same predictions do not apply to someone who tackles their hearing loss with effective hearing aids.
Go out at least once a week
Social contacts and some sort of social life are important for most people’s mental health. Although many of us have active social lives in young adulthood, these frequently tail off as the responsibilities of children, jobs, ageing parents and possibly our own health concerns begin to pile up. Making time for social activities – once a week is a good minimum – is important for your mental and, ultimately, physical health.
Dress for yourself
While you might not dress “for the male gaze”, you may have an eye to what your daughter, your coworker or even the neighbor down the street thinks. Ask yourself why this is and why you shouldn’t dress to please yourself? Although in mid-life many women experience a sartorial crisis of confidence, others feel a spark of joy at the thought of dressing to please themselves. Do what you can to get yourself into that second group.
However you choose to do it, physical activity is crucial for helping you thrive in mid-life and lay the foundations for a healthy old age. Potential health benefits include increased flexibility and stamina, lower cholesterol and blood pressure, reduced risk of heart disease and some forms of cancer, a significant boost to mental health, and a possible opportunity for meeting new people and making new friends.
Nurture old friendships
Although making new friends is a valuable and life-enhancing thing to do, it should be in addition to maintaining old friendships. Of course, not all friendships survive a lifetime but, with a little care and attention, the majority are flexible enough to adapt to changing circumstances and increased physical distances.
Take care of your joints
Joint problems are common as we get older. For women with no preexisting issues, perimenopause is often the time when joint issues first become a problem. Don’t ignore them; take ownership of the issue. See your doctor or physiotherapist, consider taking joint supplements, eat a healthy diet, take suitable exercise and check that your mattress is appropriately supportive.
Learn a new language
It’s a fallacy to suggest that only the very young can learn a new language successfully. With sufficient time, anyone is capable of doing so – and the effort that it obviously involves has proven benefits for brain health, including helping stave off the risk of dementia. Then, of course, there’s the fact that learning a new language opens the door to different cultures and travel opportunities. Bon voyage!
Drink more water (and less alcohol and caffeine)
Although many experts now query past wisdom of recommending two litres or eight glasses of water per day, many of us still don’t drink enough of the stuff. For older women, particular benefits of drinking sufficient water include better joint lubrication and healthier skin. And, along with drinking water, try to reduce your intake of caffeine and alcohol, especially if you have trouble sleeping or are suffering menopausal hot flushes.
Limit social media
It isn’t only the young who are vulnerable to the downsides of social media. FOMO can also affect older people, as can feelings of depression brought on by seeing all the exciting things other people are doing. Luckily, having grown up without social media, many older people find it easier to disengage – whether temporarily or permanently – and spend time in the real world.
Think about downsizing
While no-one’s suggesting that you need to downsize to a senior living facility as soon as your 50th birthday hoves into view, it’s still sensible to keep an eye on the future. Leaving downsizing to the very last moment, when it might be a forced move is unwise. Much better to take the process in gradual steps, perhaps taking an initial one after your kids have left home.
Make a will
A surprising proportion of people die without leaving a will. This includes people who are married and even those who have dependent children. If only they knew, it might surprise them that inheritance laws don’t always mean that the “right” people receive the “right” inheritance. Moreover, dealing with the affairs of someone who dies without a will is an administrative nightmare. Save everyone the hassle and write a will!
Good dental hygiene is important from the moment we first begin teething. However, it becomes increasingly important with age when receding gums, gum disease and general dental problems all rise in incidence. What’s more, there’s strong evidence of a link between gum disease and heart disease, and flossing helps forestall the risk of gum disease.
Learning not to make snap judgments is something that often comes more naturally with age. It’s a kinder, more considered way of living your life, with obvious benefits for others as well as yourself. However, reminding yourself to reserve judgment until you have all the facts can sometimes be necessary – and can be a salutary lesson to those around you.
Wear comfy shoes
Forget cramming your toes into severely pointed shoes or walking around all day in skyscraper heels. By 50 or so, you’ll almost certainly have experienced at least a few aches and pains in your feet – and you’ll definitely be well aware of how much work they do on your behalf. Treat them well by putting only comfortable shoes on them. (And, yes, it is possible to find attractive, cute or quirky shoes in that category!)
Listen to your body
Regardless of what any personal trainer or so-called fitness guru might have told you, it’s not a good idea to push yourself on through pain. Your body can’t speak to you, after all; instead, aches and pains are one of its primary ways of communicating, and if you ignore them you may miss something significant.
Find things that bring you joy
The greatest joy is not always (or even very often) to be found in big gestures or expensive purchases. Work out what makes you happy and make a resolution to get more of it. This might mean spending more time with a particular person, taking time alone to enjoy a good book and a cup of tea, or perhaps getting out there and visiting somewhere you’ve always wanted to go.
Get enough sleep
Deep down, we all know that sleep is important. However, in our 24/7, screen-reliant culture, it increasingly seems like an optional extra. Although small children, shift work, snoring partners and menopausal insomnia can all make sleep elusive, try hard to prioritize getting seven or eight hours per night. You’ll feel better – and thus be in a better state to take full advantage of your days.
Take photos of any medication
Once you’re on any medication more complex than the pill or an occasional dose of Tylenol, recording the specifics of that medication is a useful safety net. It’s then there as a reference if you need a prescription in a hurry or want to inform an unfamiliar doctor of exactly what you’re already taking. Photographing the bottle is a good way of doing so, but do make sure the brand name and dosage are visible.
Always pee after sex
Women have shorter urethras than men. This makes us more prone to UTIs, especially after sex – and especially at and after menopause. The simple step of remembering to pee after sex helps flush out the bacteria that, left unchecked, may start multiplying to cause a painful bout of cystitis. (This is good advice at any age – so definitely worth sharing with daughters and younger friends.)
Engage with the arts
There’s good evidence to show that engaging with the arts and other intellectual pursuits has many benefits as you advance through middle age and on into your senior years. Intellectual stimulation is one obvious benefit but others include the way it gets you out into the community and meeting like-minded people, and helps alleviate or stave off depression and anxiety.
Get out into nature
Nature is the ultimate feel-good drug. No matter your age or sex, a trip out into the wild – and, yes, that can include your neighborhood park – is enormously beneficial for both mental and physical health. And, if anything, these benefits only increase as you get older.