Midlife is a pivotal period in our life journey. It can suck – or rock!
Neither well defined nor well understood, Midlife is described simply as ‘the time between youth and old age’. A time which is often associated with stress and crisis – especially for women.
I can relate to this, but there are many positives to celebrate in Midlife too, including higher earnings, status at work, leadership in the family, authority in decision-making, self-confidence, and contribution to the community.
The reality is that these negative and positive aspects of Midlife are not exclusive to women – these are things we will all experience.
50 is the new 30
Employers are slowly starting to take more interest in Midlife workers … and they should, because for the first time in history, over 1/3rd of the working population are over 50!
On reflection I realise that for many years the HR community (me included!) put our energy, focus and effort on progressive processes and practices that were supporting the needs of the younger working generation. Many of these innovations were ground-breaking – especially around maternity/paternity, IVF, adoption, childcare, etc. – and we should be proud of what we achieved.
However, the ageing workforce means that we now have to widen our focus to meet the wellbeing and mental health needs of those in Midlife and to consider how they can help them to live their best life while performing their job.
I suggest there are three issues we need to prioritise:
Biological Changes – Menopause and Andropause The tide is turning with conversations at work about Menopause.
Rightly so, as there are 34 symptoms associated with this time in women’s lives – with some individuals suffering for up to 15 years.
However, less understood and rarely talked about is the fact that men can experience 17 of these 34 symptoms – the Andropause.
None of the Midlife men I speak to about the Andropause has heard of it. But all of them recognise that they have experienced the symptoms.
And the number one silent condition in both women and men linked to the biological changes we go through in Midlife is probably the least well known – a loss of bone density.
Osteoporosis typically strikes in older age but starts with the Menopause and Andropause.
Cancer – Breast Cancer/ Testicular Cancer One in four of us will get cancer.
Breast cancer is the biggest cancer in women and testicular cancer in men.
New cases of cancer are 50% higher amongst over 50’s.
Mental Health – ‘Brain Fog’ and Memory Loss A symptom of both Menopause and Andropause is ‘brain fog’ and memory loss.
It’s a scary feeling, and people often mistakenly fear that it’s the onset of dementia.
However, the evidence shows that these symptoms pass over time and that cognitive ability is not affected – we remain as sharp as we were.
In most cases if these issues are identified early, they can be treated positively and permanently.
So, is your organization encouraging Midlife colleagues to be aware of these issues and encouraging them to get regular health checks? And are they being given time to get appointments booked and time off to support these issues?
I’m in the camp that wants to Rock my mid life and get up every day and perform at my best.
So, I recently started taking HRT – not because I had any menopausal symptoms, but because my mum has osteoporosis. I have also had a blood tests and bone scans.
My parents are my role models, they exercise every day and have done since I can remember, and they are 83!
Diet and exercise are important. And so is being aware of what is going on in our bodies.
So, my call to arms is for all of us in Midlife to take control of ensuring that we can live our best lives – and for organizations to provide the encouragement, environment, and policies that support their employees throughout their working lives.