Studies Offer Many Positives About Future for Menopausal Women

Dorian Martin Health Guide
  • I’ve found that many friends who have gone through menopause have used this transition as a time to take stock of their lives and what’s ahead. Some feel like it’s the start of a downhill slide while others see it as a start of a new adventure.

    Interestingly, a new study indicates that we actually may have a better quality of life ahead of us. Researchers out of Harvard University looked at quality-adjusted life expectancy (QALE) and found that Americans are the healthiest they’ve been, that they’re living longer and that they have more energy, are less depressed and anxious, and have less impairment while doing everyday tasks. These findings cut across all the groups that were examined, females, males, blacks and whites.

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    Interestingly, the findings were more concentrated among the elderly. “Ironically, many of the clearest gains have come at older ages, where people were once disabled by things like vision problems and cardiovascular disease,” said Dr. David Cutler, the Otto Eckstein Professor of Applied Economics in the Harvard Department of Global Health and Population, who was part of the study. “Those conditions today are far more treatable than they were in the past, so what we’re left with at the very oldest ages are things like Alzheimer’s and dementia, while at younger ages we’re seeing problems that appear to be related to a sedentary lifestyle.”

    The researchers have found that instead of health issues such as vision problems and cardiovascular disease that were common among elders previously, the major issues are Alzheimer’s and dementia at the very oldest ages. And surprisingly the issues that are also emerging are tied to sedentary lifestyles at younger ages.

    “What we’re trying to do is measure health beyond the simple measure of life expectancy, so what we set out to measure was health-related quality of life,” Dr. Cutler said. “But historically that’s been very difficult to measure because there are so many dimensions to it. There’s the physical and the mental, but there are also aspects like energy, vitality, and pain. To try to bring all those together in a single number is challenging.”

    The researchers used national surveys from the past two decades to identify areas where studies overlapped. They used this information to build a single, large data set that represented the entire population over that period.

    In some ways, this news shouldn’t be a surprise. A study out of the MetLife Mature Market Institute that was released earlier this year found that the first set of Baby Boomers (those who were born in 1946) is revamping the idea of retirement. The researchers found that more than 52 percent of these boomers are now fully retired. Findings from this study include:

    • More than 40 percent are optimistic about the future while almost 25 percent are optimistic about their health. Twenty-percent are happy about their personal finances. 
    • This group continues to believe they will identify themselves as “old” when they reach 78.5 years of age.
    • While 30 percent felt they were sharpest when they were in their 40s, 16 percent said they considered themselves to be sharpest now (which is in their 60s).
    • Eighty-two percent want to age in place in their homes and do not have any plans to move in the future.
    • Long-term care is one of the top areas of concern during retirement. Thirty-one percent said they had concerns about providing for themselves or their spouses.
    • Almost 80 percent of the oldest Boomers do not have a parent who is still living. However, more than 10 percent are providing regular care for a parent or an older relative. The level of care required in these situations also has increased.

    While some of these issues are not totally related to menopause, they are related to aging. By being aware of these findings while going through menopause, women can make informed choices so they can look forward to a long life that is blessed with good health, financial security and all of the other things that make life worth living.

  • Primary Sources for This Sharepost:

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    MetLife Mature Market Institute. (2013). Oldest boomers are retiring at a quick rate, according to new data from the MetLife Mature Market Institute.

    Ruell, P. (2013). The good life, longer. Harvardgazette.

Published On: September 13, 2013