Women's Health Matters

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The Older Woman

The Older Woman: The Years beyond Menopause

After menopause, women with diabetes can continue to enjoy fulfilling, active lives. The key to staying healthy is the same as for younger women: Try to eat regular, well-balanced meals most of the time, stay as physically active as possible, have regular check-ups with your doctor and ensure that you are managing your diabetes as well as you can. While there may be times when you ignore some, or all, of these recommendations, remember that it's what you do most of the time that counts.

It may be difficult for you to take good care of yourself when you have added stress in your life: Health problems, the loss of someone you care about, financial concerns, worries about adult children or grandchildren can affect how you manage your diabetes. Making time to look after yourself will increase the likelihood that you can enjoy family and friends for many years to come. Now you may have more time to volunteer for a cause that interests you, to travel or enjoy hobbies.

If you are depressed or lonely, talk to your doctor and ask for a referral to a social worker or other mental health professional, who can help you look at your options for making positive changes.

On the positive side, women often find that they have more energy in the years following menopause. Many are able to enjoy sexual relations more, once freed from the fear of pregnancy. If vaginal dryness is a problem, your doctor can recommend products to provide lubrication.

You may be considering hormone replacement therapy (HRT). If you have a heart condition, your doctor will evaluate whether or not you should begin HRT at this point. A long-term study on its effects was terminated early as some negative results were reported. (Please see the Women's Health Intitiative report for more details.)

Health Complications

Health conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure and osteoporosis are more common with aging. If you develop any of these conditions, your doctor will likely prescribe medications for you. It is important to take your medication as prescribed, even if you think that you feel alright. A study on type 2 diabetes in The United Kingdom showed that good control of blood glucose and blood pressure resulted in a reduction in the severity of diabetes complications and heart disease. This reinforces the belief that taking good care of yourself over the years will make a difference in how you enjoy the later years of your life.

Check the section on menopause for information on what you can do to delay the onset of heart diseaseand osteoporosis, or manage them as well as possible when they do occur. Our 28-page booklet "Diabetes, Menopause and Beyond" also provides more detailed information on staying healthy after menopause.

With aging, digestion may become more sensitive to different foods. If you find this to be the case, consult with a dietitian to determine how you can continue to eat healthily when you may not feel like eating much. You may, for example, prefer more frequent, smaller meals than before.

The Importance of Fluids

In their 70s and 80s, women need to be aware of the importance of drinking adequate amounts of fluids, preferably water. It is easy to forget to drink, especially if you are not aware of being thirsty. While drinking enough fluid is important at any age, becoming dehydrated can have more consequences for your health, as you grow older.

With reasonable health, an inquiring mind and an interest in life, you can enjoy those later years in a special way.


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  • A publication of:
  • Women's College Hospital