- Taking time out of their own lives and careers to care for others
- Getting older
- Living longer than men
Posts Tagged ‘Money and More’
It’s human nature to always be ready to jump on the next “new thing” . . . whether it’s a diet that everyone is raving about, an exercise program that promises to get rid of cellulite or (finally!) the skin cream that will erase wrinkles as soon as you spot them. If something seems too good to be true, it’s usually not. (more…)
I just wrote an article about how women should consider living together as they age to pool resources and skills . . . and if done right, it could be fun . . . like summer camp for adults. It’s on Huffington Post and the comments are coming in, fast and furious.
It really could be fun, but if you get the wrong partners . . . it would be anything but. Not good. (more…)
I just got this message in an email from the wonderful Dr. Jennifer Mieres, cardiologist extraordinaire, and a medical expert I interviewed for The Best of Everything After 50. Read on, and smile . . .
Subject: Good friends
They teach this at Stanford (and to think that we already knew this!!)
A thought to share…and sooooo true…
“I just finished taking an evening class at Stanford. The last lecture was on the mind-body connection-the relationship between stress and disease. The speaker (head of psychiatry at Stanford) said, among other things, that one of the best things that a man could do for his health is to be married to a woman whereas for a woman, one of the best things she could do for her health was to nurture her relationships with her girlfriends. At first everyone laughed, but he was serious.
Women connect with each other differently and provide support systems that help each other to deal with stress and difficult life experiences. Physically this quality “girlfriend time” helps us to create more serotonin-a neurotransmitter that helps combat depression and can create a general feeling of well being. Women share feelings whereas men often form relationships around activities. They rarely sit down with a buddy and talk about how they feel about certain things or how their personal lives are going. Jobs? Yes. Sports? Yes. Cars? Yes. Fishing, hunting, golf? Yes. But their feelings?-rarely. Women do it all of the time. We share from our souls with our sisters/mothers, and evidently that is very good for our health. He said that spending time with a friend is just as important to our general health as jogging or working out at a gym.
There’s a tendency to think that when we are “exercising” we are doing something good for our bodies, but when we are hanging out with friends, we are wasting our time and should be more productively engaged–not true. In fact, he said that failure to create and maintain quality personal relationships with other humans is as dangerous to our physical health as smoking! So every time you hang out to schmooze with a gal pal, just pat yourself on the back and congratulate yourself for doing something good for your health! We are indeed very, very lucky. Sooooo let’s toast to our friendship with our girlfriends. Evidently it’s very good for our health.”
My husband and I met in the sweltering summer of 1992 and started rocking and rolling immediately. But from the moment we got married a year later, we were 1) thinking about getting pregnant, 2) in a state of pregnancy, 3) recovering from pregnancy or 4) enjoying (and coping with) the results of pregnancy: babies, toddlers and, now, two teenagers. It wasn’t exactly conducive to swinging from chandeliers.
During those early years, sex was focused more on a result (children), but that’s no longer the case. Like most couples over 50, we are free to have sex pretty much whenever we want. But, do we?
I tried to find some statistics about how many times per week married Americans over 50 made love (with each other), but there were so many different studies saying so many different things, it was hard to suss out the truth. One stated that married couples over 50 had sex once or twice a week, while another claimed it was closer to once or twice a month.
Confused and in need of more information, I met with Dr. Margaret Nachtigall, a reproductive endocrinologist in New York City, who shared some statistics from a study done by The National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior:
A study of married couples found age and marital satisfaction to be the two variables most associated with amount of sex. As couples age, they engage in sex less frequently, with half of couples age 65-75 still engaging in sex, but less than one fourth of couples over 75 still sexually active. Across all ages, couples who reported higher levels of marital satisfaction also reported higher frequencies of sex.
This study left me feeling that the older we got, the less we got it. Not good.
I raised this topic with some girlfriends one night over a bottle of wine, hoping to get insights into their concerns, and (yes, I admit it) how often they had sex (with their partners).
We all had the same question: I love my husband and he loves me, so why aren’t we having as much hot sex as we used to? We want to have sex, but sometimes we just aren’t into it. How do we get in the mood? We all hated thinking that things were slowing down, and that they might slow down even more. For sure, menopause can sometimes make sex uncomfortable, and our libido can drop off. But just because a woman is post-menopausal, does she automatically lose interest? Forever? Was that my future? Was I supposed to lock this door and throw away the key?
I was getting worried. And whenever I get worried, I do research. Finally, someone suggested I meet with Esther Perel, author of Mating in Captivity, which explores many of the questions my friends and I were confronting – specifically, why couples who have been together for a very long time often can’t sustain a rich, enjoyable sexual life … together. Esther was particularly eager to find out because in her view, sex after 50 may be the best sex we’ll ever have.
First, she said, we had to address some long-held views about sex after 50 that may not be true.
- Women over 50 are sexually dysfunctional due to menopause. According to Esther’s research, the majority of women over 50 are sexually healthy. Sexual problems that are menopause-related can be addressed with simple solutions like lubricants or estrogen.
- Men think women over 50 are sexually undesirable. Esther has rarely encountered a man who says his low sex drive is related to how his wife looks, or her age. But, he will be turned off if she has stopped being interested in sex. Men want women who want sex.
- If you’re not having spontaneous sex, it must mean your sex life is over. When, Esther asked, was sex ever spontaneous? When you were first together, you had sex on your mind for hours, maybe even days, leading up to the experience. In many cases, you set the date, thought about it, planned the evening — even what to wear. It may have seemed spontaneous, but it wasn’t. Good sex is planned sex.
- If a couple is having less sex, it’s her fault. News flash: If a woman over 50 is having less sex, chances are it’s him, not her. In men, low sex drive is often related to health problems or medications he may be on, many of which are known to create some sexual functioning challenges. Men aren’t used to needing stimulation, and it can be troubling. Sometimes he’ll just avoid it, causing the woman to think he’s no longer attracted to her — which results in a sexual Catch-22.
- If you want to have a better sex life, you need to get closer. On the contrary, Esther says, excess information and over-sharing can put the kibbosh on desire, while a little mystery can fuel sexual attraction. Creating an erotic space between you and your partner is essential for good sex. (I share lots of tips on how to do that in The Best of Everything After 50.)
Then, we explored the three main tools that women can use to get into the mood:
- Arousal – Watch a movie or read a book, have a fantasy, put on some sexy lingerie. Many things can arouse us. Arousal can lead to desire, and desire leads to sex. Figure out what gets you going and use it when you need it.
- Desire – Desire means wanting to be turned on. With this entry point, you want to get aroused, and you want to actively engage in getting turned on with your partner.
- Willingness – This is the most important entry point for women over 50. If you’ve been ignoring, neglecting or denying your sexual self for a while, then you must consciously decide that you want sex in order to even let yourself feel desire. We talk ourselves into doing things all the time – going out to an event, cooking dinner – but people don’t think about talking themselves into having sex (and they often confuse it with “pity sex”). This makes complete and total sense to me … and, even better, it works!
So here’s the big reveal: After 50, we’re at a sexual crossroads, and need to make a choice: We could go through menopause, shut down that part of ourselves, lock the door and throw away the key. Or we could embrace this new life with a sense of freedom and fun – no more periods, no more worries about getting pregnant, no more doing it because there has to be a result. You may very well find yourself having the best sex … ever!
And finally, one little bit of advice: Stop looking for studies about how often other people have sex. No one really knows what goes on behind closed doors (no matter what they say to the survey interviewer). And … who cares?
A few months ago the editors at Health.com wrote an article –”11 Mistakes Women Make in Middle Age” — which was based on an interview with me about my book,“The Best of Everything After 50: The Experts’ Guide to Style, Sex, Health, Money and More.”
It generated so much attention that other media outlets have run the story since then, including Yahoo Shine, thirdage.com, and The Huffington Post. A producer at “The Today Show” saw it and invited me to be a guest on the show last week, talking about what I’ve learned from my research. I now refer to it as “the article that keeps on giving.”
No matter where the article pops up, it gets a lot of hits, shares and comments from readers, because many of us are unsure about the right steps to take for better health, fitness, beauty and style. It can be a very confusing time, which is the main reason I decided to research and write the book.
The most important thing I learned is this: health and fitness should be our top priorities after 50 because the better we feel, the better we look, and age becomes irrelevant. Simplify your life, pare back to the basics, and embrace your age — no matter what it is — with pride, confidence and attitude.
Simple, but not always easy, because by the time we hit 50 we’re often set in our ways. To break out of our health, exercise, eating, style, hair, makeup and skincare ruts, let’s start by taking a look at some of the most common mistakes we make, in addition to those listed in “11 Mistakes Women Make in Middle Age.”
I’m 54, and part of the largest single demographic group in the history of the world. Our buying power is huge, and we are a political powerhouse. Invisible? Hardly. But as I entered my 50s, I sometimes felt as though I was being pushed aside, ignored and not young or interesting enough to have a voice in the world, as I once did. Luckily, I got a grip, and realized that we have to ignore the noise, embrace our age, not be afraid of it, accept that change is happening, and figure out the best way to address those changes, forging ahead with health and vitality.
Being Afraid of Aging
The best advice I can give you is this: be fearless after 50. Fear will stop you from pursuing your dreams, and could cause you to give up and give in, keeping you a prisoner in your comfort zone. This is the simple concept I learned from researching, writing and living the advice in my book; If you’re healthy, you feel good. If you feel good, you look good. If you feel good and look good and have a vision for your future, you feel even better. If you’ve got all that plus the knowledge how to stay that way, you feel amazing. And if you feel amazing, who cares about age?
Losing Control of Your Life
When I hit 50, I started to feel as though society had already mapped out my future: I would grow older, fade into the background, continue to pack on post-menopausal pounds, and decide that this was probably going to be how it was going to be. That’s where I was headed until I stopped in my tracks, and said no. Instead, I retreated, revised and re-emerged: I took control, and created a new future for myself which includes exercise, healthy eating, smart skincare, easy makeup and hair, simple style, and a whole new attitude. We can’t control getting older, but we can control how we do it.
Getting Overwhelmed by Too Much Information
Knowledge is power, right? So when I turned 50, I went on a quest to find the answers. I searched the Internet, bookstores and magazines, but it soon turned into information overload. Everybody had an opinion — and most of them conflicted with each other: Eat more protein. No, eat less protein. Take supplements. No, get all your nutrition from foods. You can wear jeans after 50. You can absolutely not wear jeans after 50. And everybody, it seems, wants to sell us something to lose weight or get rid of wrinkles. I was ready to throw the proverbial blanket over my head and stay there. Then one day, it hit me. I didn’t want lots of information; I wanted the best information on what I need to know now about getting older. So, I cut through the noise, and figured out what really works, and what doesn’t.
Ignoring Your Inner Kid
Smile, play, laugh, have fun, engage, connect. These are all essential for healthy aging. Don’t take yourself, or the world, too seriously. There will always be problems, but do we have to constantly dwell on them? Do you remember how much fun it was when you were a kid to just get outside and run around? I do that with my dog. We run (with walk breaks) four to five miles several times a week. Not only am I keeping my weight at a healthy level and exercising my heart, but all studies have shown that physical activity raises your endorphins and makes you feel good. Play games, engage in a hobby, stay in close touch with friends who care about you, and steer clear of those who don’t. Volunteer, and say Yay! as often as you can. It’s contagious.
Feeling Sorry for Yourself
It’s not always easy getting older, especially if you, or loved ones, are experiencing illness, loss, or difficult financial times. But, feeling sorry for yourself is counter-productive, as it only serves to keep you stuck where you are. Instead, take control, figure out what you need to make your situation easier (or at least, more tolerable), get help from others if you need it, and create a vision of your life which includes getting and staying fit, so you can more readily shoulder whatever comes your way in the future.
Not Having a Financial Plan
I interviewed Jane Bryant Quinn, the internationally known financial expert and author, for my book. Jane is a conservative thinker when it comes to financial planning, and she gave me some very good advice for people approaching 50: as we’re heading toward retirement — which probably won’t happen until we’re closer to 70 due to many converging factors — we have to ask ourselves how we’re going to afford to live. One of the most stressful things any of us can go through is financial uncertainty. This is where the simple part comes in: save more, and spend less. No magic… just basic common sense. And understand the different kinds of insurance we need as we get older. You may want to consider hiring a fee-only financial planner to get started.
The last paragraph of my book succinctly sums up my simple philosophy on living a good life after 50, and I’d like to share it with you here:
For the rest of your life: love yourself, love your life, stay as healthy as you can, move your body, be informed, stay engaged, use your mind, keep a handle on your finances, be bold, be brave, walk with confidence, live with style . . . and you will always have the best of everything.