Pamela Chan, Editorial/BCFamily.ca
Lately, I’ve been making more of an effort to read the homepage feed on my LinkedIn account. I find information that is a shift different from what I encounter on other social media sites. One of the most prolific sharers on LinkedIn is Richard Branson. From time to time I will re-share his articles and might even add my own comment above. When I saw this article, that was re-shared by Richard, my natural inclination was to re-share it. But this time I had A LOT to say about it.
As thoughtful as the tips in the article are, I started to think about the older female employees who might read this kind of content. The tips about thriving during a pandemic are useful but don’t fully embrace the health and wellness challenges that older female employees are facing, whether or not a pandemic is going on.
Simply put – women age 40+ need to do a deep dive into health research about the ways that women’s health changes at this age. The obvious and main issue would be changes in hormone levels. I was aghast to find out how these changes affect multiple organs and different health systems in the body. And I was even more shocked – yes shocked – to discover the long list of ailments with which women must contend for years on end.
Why hadn’t I heard about these many challenges before? Why didn’t generations of women older than me talk about this topic in my presence? Why aren’t I hearing about these challenges from mid stream and older Generation X and Boomer women? Over the years – in person and in mainstream media – all I ever heard were jokes about women getting overheated and cranky. These jokes were often shared by men. Did women get tired of the jokes – so they went quiet?
These days, all I ever hear, read about and notice are discussions about new (and frankly miserable sounding) ways of eating, why I should never touch grains again and how much weight a woman has to lose before someone will drop a “you are looking great” comment.
It wasn’t until I started following Trinny Woodall (from Trinny London) , and her Trinny Tribe, a few months ago that I encountered women who were openly talking about the health challenges that are unique to older women.
Morning panic attacks anyone?
Rapid weight gain that increases heart health risks?
How about crippling anxiety?
And there is no One Size Fits All in terms of how these health changes roll out. Every woman’s experience is unique. How does this all tie into content that could be re-shared on LinkedIn? All these changes happen while women are in still in the workforce and likely existing in “sandwich generation” lifestyles at home – caring for young and older children while increasingly caring for and supporting older parents. At the same time, the media world focusses attention and praise on the idea of the younger woman – or the older woman who looks like and seems to be a younger woman.
At an age when older women are battling exhaustion and all manner of symptoms, they need to look energetic and fabulously fit in order to stay relevant and visible.
It’s not enough to stop eating; survive on green drinks, lettuce and a few more bites of food; and, do 2 hours of exercise every day. (I can’t unsee some of the trending advice that I’ve encountered!) The tips in the Virgin article are a good start. But for female employees in second adulthood, a lot more research is needed in order to understand what is happening with an older woman’s health.
If these are challenges that you face, hopefully you can find your own tribe of women with whom you can discuss these topics and share information. Even if it has to be online.
If you’re looking for a place to start, I suggest starting with videos on this topic on the A.Vogel Canada YouTube page.
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