This paper addresses middle-aged women: the women who are from 35 to 65 years old. During this period of their lives, women often encounter health problems, which makes health teaching particularly important in this respect.
During their middle age women go through natural aging processes along with equally natural processes connected with menopause. The latter most commonly occurs in the period between the age of 45 and 55 (Alexander, LaRosa, Bader, Garfield, & Alexander, 2014). The onset of the processes depends only partially on the lifestyle and particular physical characteristics of a woman. In consequence of the continuous increase of life expectancy we witness nowadays due to the efforts of contemporary medical science, most women live to experience both the aging and the menopause with all the negative changes connected to them (Alexander et al., 2014). All of this means that improving the lives of middle-aged women is a challenge worth addressing.
It is a well-known fact that upon entering the middle-age stage of their life, women notice significant changes in their health. Most often women’s complaints include increasing weight, thinning hair, sleep disturbances, mood swings, changes in the regularity of menstrual periods (Alexander et al., 2014). The latter is a possible sign of the approaching menopause, its average age of onset being 51 (Alexander et al., 2014, p. 223). This process is characterized by numerous physical and emotional changes, most important of them marking the end of a woman’s childbearing capability. Symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, urine leakages, decreased sexual drive, and depression are not exhibited by every woman, but if they occur, they influence the life of a patient in a most negative way (Alexander et al., 2014).
However, menopause symptoms can be more life-threatening. Scientific data has been gathered to prove that the incidence of cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis rises significantly for women in premenopausal and postmenopausal periods (Alexander et al., 2014). It has also been discovered that, apart from being unhealthy in general, most widespread pernicious habits (including smoking, unhealthy diets and sedentary life) increase the chances of the development of the before mentioned diseases and premature death (Dare, Mackay, & Pell, 2015; Fisher & Kridli, 2013; Holahan et al., 2012). Stress, which is so difficult to avoid for a modern working woman, appears to have similar influence (Au, Hauck, & Hollingsworth, 2012). It may be therefore concluded that middle-aged women’s health requires special attention from medical scientists, healthcare workers and the women themselves.
The issues of middle-aged women’s health have been thoroughly investigated although there is still room for further research (Alexander et al., 2014; Holahan et al., 2012). Contemporary science takes into account the changes in the lifestyle of a modern woman and seeks to include and research every social group. One of the directions that are being investigated is the impact of healthy lifestyle on the overall health of middle-aged women and the problems commonly associated with this age (Alexander et al., 2014; Fisher & Kridli, 2013). The information gathered in the course of these investigations is being used to improve healthcare, but the promotion of accurate information across the population under consideration appears to be equally important.
According to Alexander et al. (2014) it is women who are mostly concerned with the health issues of their families, which may bring us to the conclusion that improving the condition and decreasing the chances of negative outcomes for middle-aged women is a manageable task. Health-related education is crucially important and women seem to be receptive to it.
The modern age has brought the understanding of the significance of prevention measures. As it has been pointed out in numerous studies, while certain conditions women find themselves in can only be treated with the help of medications, many of the difficulties of middle age (such as the weight gain or the hair loss and insomnia) can be avoided or alleviated by adopting a lifestyle that includes a proper diet and a healthy amount of exercise (Fisher & Kridli, 2013; Alexander et al., 2014). While providing women with accurate information on the drawbacks of middle age is necessary, the promotion of a healthy lifestyle among them seems to be equally important. To point out the specific benefits that healthy lifestyle brings for middle-aged women means to show them what they can do for their current and future well-being and to encourage them to take care of their own health.
The specifically vulnerable position of middle-aged women has been attracting the attention of researchers for the past decades (Alexander et al., 2014). The realities of contemporary life have been taken into account as separate studies devoted to female smokers or the impact of long working hours on women’s health have been carried out (Dare et al., 2015; Holahan et al., 2012; Au et al., 2012). There appears to be a sufficient amount of information on the matter, the analysis of which should provide all the necessary evidence for proper education and promotion of healthy lifestyle.
Alexander, L., LaRosa, J., Bader, H., Garfield, S., & Alexander, W. (2014). New dimensions in women’s health (6th ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.
Au, N., Hauck, K., & Hollingsworth, B. (2012). Employment, work hours and weight gain among middle-aged women. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord, 37(5), 718-724.
Fisher, K., & Kridli, S. (2013). The role of motivation and self-efficacy on the practice of health promotion behaviours in the overweight and obese middle-aged American women. International Journal Of Nursing Practice, 20(3), 327-335.
Dare, S., Mackay, D., & Pell, J. (2015). Relationship between Smoking and Obesity: A Cross-Sectional Study of 499,504 Middle-Aged Adults in the UK General Population. Public Library of Science ONE, 10(4), e0123579.
Holahan, C., Holahan, C., North, R., Hayes, R., Powers, D., & Ockene, J. (2012). Smoking Status, Physical Health-Related Quality of Life, and Mortality in Middle-Aged and Older Women. Nicotine & Tobacco Research, 15(3), 662-669.