Staying Healthy in the Middle Years
Our bodies are changing as we reach our middle years (ages 50-70), and taking good care of ourselves allows us to embrace the new experiences ahead of us at this stage in our lives. We’ve asked one of our MedStar Washington Hospital Center physicians for advice to help you feel your best. Here Dr. Karen M. Johnson discusses changes in mental health as we age, and how to embrace these changes to thrive.
People in the middle years are fortunate because life experience has helped them develop a strong sense of self and identity, says Karen M. Johnson, MD.
“By 50 and older, most of us know important things about ourselves: what we believe, what makes us happy, how to achieve some kind of balance in life,” Dr. Johnson explains. “We are better at loving who we are, and being at peace with ourselves, which promotes a high level of mental health.”
Continue to Thrive
Older adults can use this knowledge to affirm priorities. “You may want to revisit your work life, streamlining it to focus on what gives you the greatest satisfaction and sense of purpose,” says Dr. Johnson. “Consider uncluttering your social group and investing your time with people who uplift your soul and spirit. Let go of unnecessary guilt—you are doing the best that you can. And find ways to say what you want to say in a respectful way, but still speak your truth.”
Embracing changing circumstances also helps us thrive.“If a longtime friend relocates, for example, you can maintain what’s important about that relationship in a different way. Schedule a trip together or chat on skype™ while sharing a cup of tea,” Dr. Johnson suggests. “The electronic world is still a new world to many of us, but this is a great time to use technology as a tool for connection.”