When A Pandemic and Menopause Create An Urgent Reassessment On Our Mortality
Menopause is a natural life transition that causes women to reassess their own morbidity and mortality as they age. For many, it’s a wake-up call, and an opportunity to focus on improved physical well-being to live a more active, healthier life. The pandemic added a new layer of urgency to the self-realization of our own mortality. Yes, we started eating healthier and exercising more, a good start, but where does our happiness fit into the long-term plans, and how do we self-advocate for that?
What The Pandemic Taught Us
The pandemic taught us that successful aging is more than the biomedical model of avoiding disease and disability. Yes, healthy diets and regular exercise are necessary components of health, but successful aging is also achieved through the pursuit of happiness and mindful living. More than 28.6 million people reassessed their lives and retired in 2020. That equates to 3.2 million retirees during the same period in 20191. Why? For some, the decision was made for them…jobs were lost to the pandemic. But for most, the decision was purposely made, especially for women. Americans who expected to work past age 67 dipped to a low of 32.9% as of March 2021, a record low2.
The Year Of Self-Advocacy
I closed my clinic this year. I am proud of my career as a women’s health provider and healthcare advocate but finally realized that my patients will still get good care from other providers after I close. I cut back on my responsibilities to others and even took a pay cut to reprioritize my goals to spend more time with those I love. I chose a more mindful lifestyle that involves a wonderful partner and lots of travel to exotic places, instead of only traveling for work. During the last five months, I have visited Iceland to watch a volcano erupt, Mexico to swim with whale sharks, Boulder to climb a mountain (and visit my kids for the first time in a year and a half), and to Florida to swim in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. My self-advocacy involved a reassessment and willingness to let go of familiar parts of my past life that no longer worked for me. That can be scary, but it’s worth it. What makes you happy? Are you there yet? Set your goals for successful aging!
1Pew Research Center. The pace of boomer retirements has accelerated in the last year. Nov 9, 2020. Available online here.
2Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Center for Microeconomic Data. SCE Labor Market Survey. March 2021. Available online here.