It can be difficult to buy a gift that brings comfort to someone who is sick. I have been on both sides of the sick role, as patient and nurse. While it is common to buy the usual chocolates and flowers, I will suggest alternatives that show you have put a little thought into the gift.
This post may contain affiliate links which means I may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure.
Hospitalised people usually love a gift of their favourite food and drink. Please check with the hospital first. Some hospitals have policies that ban home cooked food, or the patient may be on a restricted diet.
Peppermint tea is very good for abdominal pain and is allowed on most diets. Camomile tea may be used to aid sleep. Most hospitals only supply black tea and coffee, and cows milk. If there is any other favourite beverage this usually goes down well. Highly carbonated drinks are not a good idea for anyone who has had abdominal surgery as the gas can cause bloating and abdominal pain.
Fresh fruit is preferable to sweets and chocolates. It is better for digestion and healthier. Plain biscuits may be appreciated if the recipient is on a bland diet or has a lot of nausea. Home made clear broth is usually allowed even on the strictest diet. Other home made pureed soups are great because they are nutritious without being difficult to eat.
For people with a poor appetite, or those recovering from surgery or an injury, high protein snacks and drinks help with healing.
Gifts that bring Comfort
My boomerang pillow has been a vital comfort whenever I have been in hospital. Hospital pillows aren’t very soft, and a boomerang pillow helps me position myself comfortably.
A soft, warm blanket helps with comfort as well. Because hospital rooms can be drafty, a small blanket or shawl can help to keep their shoulders warm when they are sitting out of bed, or can wrap around their legs.
Some people really feel the heat so a small portable fan can be a welcome relief.
A wheat bag or heat pad alleviates pain. Check that the hospital policy allows it, and avoid using heat packs for elderly people or those with altered conscious levels as they can cause burns.
Slippers should be chosen for safety as well as comfort. Make sure they fit correctly and avoid scuffs for older people. Badly fitting slippers account for many falls in elderly people. See my post, Gift Guide for the Older Gentleman in Your Life for more suggestions on gifts for elderly people.
Pyjamas, a dressing gown and socks are nice gifts for someone who is sick. Offering to do their washing is a very thoughtful suggestion.
Other Gift Suggestions
Other gift ideas for someone who is sick include:
Things to while away the hours, e.g. packs of cards, puzzle books, magazines, books, games, DVDs or hand held games.
Toiletries, especially toothpaste and toothbrush, comb, body wash.
Offer to help with chores while they are recovering. For those on restricted movement, offering to walk their dog or pick up some groceries would help.
Sometimes just being there to listen can be appreciated. Being unwell, whether it is an acute illness, injury or surgery, or a chronic illness, can leave someone isolated and lonely. Being a good listener can be more important than any gift.
I hope you found these gift ideas for someone who is sick useful. If you enjoyed this, you may also enjoy:
A positive attitude can improve your quality of life and contribute to longevity and improved health as you age. A positive attitude to life has been shown by studies to increase your lifespan by 11 to 15%, and increase your odds of living to 85 years or more. Other benefits of optimism include stress reduction, improved immunity and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. It improves resilience to illness and contributes to happiness, leading to a richer, more fulfilled life (Source VeryWellMind.com).
My Observations of Elderly Patients
As a nurse I have developed the opinion over many years, that if you make it to your 80s and 90s, you are often healthier than the 50 or 60 year old in the next bed. That generation was made of steel and their inner strength comes from having to survive and thrive during so many hardships. In their eight or nine decades they have seen wars and hardships like no other.
The Strongest Woman I Know Is 85 Years Old
The strongest woman I know is my 85 year old mother-in-law. Strength can be measured in physical terms, but in this case the strength is her inner strength and fortitude. Over three years ago she was diagnosed with lung cancer. She was offered treatment but she declined as it wouldn’t have cured her. While her family fell to pieces she declared “I feel fine! What are you all upset about?”
She got on with life and it was easy to forget she had incurable cancer and other health issues. She has always been very active and sociable and cancer didn’t slow her down. Off she went to bingo and lunch with her friends, carrying on life as usual.
Gwen has not only survived, but thrived. She refused to change her lifestyle and continued to live life to the fullest. She’s the type of person that cleans up and moves all the furniture before the cleaner comes. We offered to help her and my father-in-law but they push on, staying as independent as they can in their own home.
A Positive Attitude Can Improve Your Quality of Life
We often complained about our aches and pains and other physical ailments. Gwen would sit and listen to us all moan, then would pipe up with “You’re all falling apart! I feel great!” She put us all to shame because she never complained, and rarely has had a day in bed. If she goes to bed during the day we know she’s really sick. Her positive attitude and stoicism has helped her maintain her health.
The Cancer Has Progressed
This year we’ve all noticed her slowing down, becoming more short of breath and looking pale and gaunt (under the makeup of course!). One day she coughed up blood, which gave us all a fright. My sister-in-law persuaded her to go to hospital to be checked. Remarkably she’s never been in hospital other than that time, and another time when I called the ambulance because she was having chest pain.
The scans revealed that the cancer has grown and now 90% occludes her bronchus – the main airway to her left lung. It spread from the initial tumour on her left chest wall to surround all the major blood vessels and organs beneath her sternum. It’s finally catching up with her and she only has a limited amount of time left. Mind you, she was given 9 months to live over three years ago so she’s far surpassed anyone’s expectations.
Staying Active Keeps You Healthy
Her positive attitude and get-up-and-go is the reason she is still here with us. If she had decided to slow down, sit around and accept our help, I have no doubt she wouldn’t have still been here. Just by being more active (she even still does her exercises) she has kept her physical strength up, and not allowed her body to degenerate.
If she had lain around, she would have been at higher risk of developing pneumonia because her lower lungs would collapse and trap mucous in their bases. Just by keeping active she has prevented this common cause of death in the elderly. Both my parents-in-law have had influenza and other upper respiratory infections during the last few years, and miraculously have pulled through every time.
Just seeing how the two of them have not only survived, but thrived, is so inspirational. My own father lost most of his mobility over the last two decades of his life because he enjoyed being waited on hand and foot. I remember encouraging him not to sit around when he was only in his 60s. Use it or lose it.
Strong Family Connections Are Important
My husband’s family have always lived within 10 minutes of each other which is in contrast to my own. I had no family around when I was bringing up my sons as a single mother, so it was a shock to the system to suddenly have so much connection with family. That connection has contributed to my parents-in-law living such fulfilled lives. My nieces and nephew don’t know how lucky they are to have so much contact with their grandparents in their 20s.
Keeping Mentally Active Improves Quality of Life as You Age
Keeping mentally active has also played a part in their quality of life. My mother-in-law does puzzles and crosswords, while my father-in-law has a keen interest in documentaries. He tinkers with the boat and has always been a keen gardener. We always get great advice on gardening and home improvements from my father-in-law.
Living Life Without Regrets
The one thing I’ve seen in common with my father and my parents-in-law is that they don’t fear death. They have lived long productive lives and don’t live with regret. They have strong connections with their families and look forward to being reunited with their loved ones that have gone before them. My dad was incredibly peaceful and serene when he was on his death bed despite severe pain.
We can’t choose the day we die (unless we commit suicide) but we can live our lives in such a way that the quality of life is maximised. Keeping physically active and emotionally connected to our families – having a purpose in life – is vital if we want to live life to the fullest like my mother-in-law.
Our Family’s Loss Will Be Acutely Painful
We will all be devastated when we lose her. The heart of the family will be gone. We’re all dreading the day. My sister-in-law and I lost our mothers when we were newlyweds so we know what it’s like. 30 years later and I still miss her. Our husbands don’t know what being without your mother is like. I just hope I can be strong enough to help my husband through the grieving process as he has helped me. I lost my sister suddenly and my father after a long battle with prostate and pancreatic cancer, and Phil has supported me through both those losses.
We’re planning a surprise high tea garden party for my mother-in-law’s 86th birthday in three weeks. If she can make it through her birthday, then Christmas, then my father-in-law’s 90th in January, we will be relieved. We’ve had her for borrowed time already but that would be a bonus.
Stay Positive – It Will Improve Your Quality of Life
Elderly people who maintain their quality of life have much to teach us. A positive attitude and a sense of optimism will not only improve your quality of life, but it will help you live longer. Embrace all that life has to offer. Keep strong ties with your family and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Your health will be enhanced if you stay active and continue to exercise your mind. Above all, a positive attitude can improve your quality of life as you age.
Christmas shopping has taken on a new focus this year. Normally the shops are packed leading up to the big day but this year the pandemic has added a level of anxiety to this already stressful period. Now we have social distancing to consider, with limits to the number of shoppers allowed in at one time. Christmas shopping during a pandemic is even more stressful than it normally is.
Many people aim to avoid the shops for fear of getting sick, especially if they are in a high risk category. Online shopping is a growing sector of the market as shoppers strive to avoid the crowds. It is best to purchase as early as possible because delivery may be delayed due to demand this year.
Christmas Shopping During a Pandemic Is Stressful
Personally I find Christmas shopping to be very stressful at the best of times. The noise level gets on my nerves, with annoying sound tracks (never the nice versions of favourite Christmas carols) competing with screaming kids. The pressure to buy the perfect gift is very high. I had a full blown panic attack in the toy aisle one year.
Over the years my Christmas list has become shorter and shorter as the kids grow up and the adults agree to not buy presents for each other. I try to do my Christmas shopping very early in the year to avoid the rush. Most of my presents are purchased through online shopping this year. Online shopping is my answer to avoiding the crowds and lower my stress levels. This post aims to introduce a few unique online sources of gifts.
Avoiding the Crowds with Online Shopping
I’m an affiliate for the following companies which means I will earn a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through my link. Please see my full disclosure.
There are always a few people that are hard to buy for. They’re the ones who are picky, or they have everything. We’ve resorted to buying gift vouchers in the past but I definitely prefer to buy something meaningful.
If you are scratching your head trying to find a unique present, take a look at the Gifts Australia website. They have some wonderful gifts on their site. You can search for presents according to who will be the recipient, the price range and the occasion. They offer free delivery over $99 within Australia, free gift wrapping and a gift card. I love their hampers as they are full of quality goods and beautifully presented.
The Well Store
If someone on your list is health conscious, or vegan, or loves environmentally friendly products, have a look at The Well Store. Their range is extensive so you are sure to find a unique gift. Many people are making these lifestyle choices so buying them a thoughtful gift will be much appreciated. All of the products sold by The Well Store are non-toxic, natural, organic and cruelty free. The Well Store offers free delivery within Australia for purchases over $30, and Internationally for purchases over $50.
HideAWAY Bath and Body
Beautiful skin care, body and bath products can be purchased for someone special at HideAWAY. This is a local company who handcraft their skin care range from locally sourced natural ingredients. With names like Black Sugar, Frangipani Dream and Fantasea, their unique fragrances are very enticing. A lovely gift from their range would be perfect for someone who appreciates prioritising time for self care. HideAWAY offers free shipping for purchases over $120.
If you live further afield, you may prefer to do your online shopping from Amazon. Amazon’s website showcases gift ideas for all price ranges and gift categories. I’m waiting impatiently for the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales to complete my Christmas shopping for the year. Black Friday is November 27 while Cyber Monday is 30 November. These sales are eagerly anticipated as the discounts are huge.
My previous post Caring For Your Skin as You Age discussed how our skin ages, and what anti-aging product categories you can use to care for your skin. I am now going to tell you what I recommend to be the best anti-aging skin care products based on my own experience. Please note, I am not a beauty therapist, nor am I an expert in this area. However, I am a Registered Nurse and the products I use contain the ingredients that are known to assist in the anti-aging process.
My budget is fairly low. I tend to use brands that are available at the discount pharmacy or supermarket. I have tried many brands over the years, but I have found I can generally rely on a few brands because they consistently produce positive results in my skin.
This post may contain affiliate links which means I may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure. I have links to Amazon in this article – the highlighted clickable links in text are to Amazon Australia, while the picture links are to Amazon US.
Anti-aging Skin Care Routine
My skin is sensitive, so I use an NEUTROGENA Extra Gentle Cleanser 200mL” target=”_blank” rel=”noreferrer noopener sponsored nofollow”>Extra Gentle Cleanser by Neutrogena. It is fragrance-free and doesn’t leave my skin feeling tight or dry. This cleanser is non-soap so it helps to moisturise my skin without clogging the pores. It has been tested by dermatologists and is safe for allergy prone skin like mine.
I am very new to using a serum because the price of serums was outside my budget. However I found the Ordinary brand for an incredibly cheap price at the discount pharmacy. It contains the same active ingredients as other more expensive brands (hyaluronic Acid 2%) and is vegan and ethically produced.
I am stunned at how much this has improved my skin. I had open pores, dry scaly areas, lines particularly around my eyes and sunspots. All areas of my face improved within a few days. It acts as a chemical exfoliant, so I no longer use harsh physical exfoliants such as scrubs. For this reason, this serum is the one of the best anti-aging skin care products that I have used.
At present I am using a wonderful product that I bought in Japan. I am unable to source it here in Australia so I will use my favourite product by L’Oreal when it runs out. L’Oreal is a brand I trust. Their products are consistently of high quality. I love the fact that they formulate products for your age group to target specific skin concerns common among all of us. The Age Perfect day cream is my favourite in this range.
The Classic SPF15 Day Cream contains sunscreen which is an important factor for me. If I can prevent more age spots from developing on my skin I would be very relieved. It always leaves my skin feeling hydrated without a greasy residue.
My favourite sunscreen brands are Cancer Council and Neutrogena. Their sunscreens are of the highest quality and very reliable. I need to be particularly sun smart as there have been three close members of my family diagnosed with a melanoma, including my son.
My favourite sunscreen for my face is Cancer Council’s Foundation. It doesn’t leave my face greasy, and contains just enough tint to use like other foundations. I have never been sunburnt while using products by Cancer Council or Neutrogena.
If I am going to be in full sunlight for an extended period of time I apply a cream sunscreen and then follow it up with Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Body Mist. This ensures I haven’t missed any areas. I also wear a hat and try to avoid the sun between 10am and 2pm.
I swear by Garnier’s Skin Active Micellar Cleansing Water. Any other products sting my skin and make my eyes inflamed and red. You can use this all over for face as it is very mild, and it is also able to remove eye makeup. Because I can use it to cleanse my whole face it saves time which is important to me. I tend to neglect this step if it takes too long, so this product is perfect.
My night cream is L’Oreal’s Age Perfect night cream. This gives my skin that added moisturiser at night, allowing it to be restored and refreshed. It reduces the appearance of age spots. I can use it close to my eyes without it feeling too heavy on the more sensitive areas of my face.
Once a week I use a Garnier face mask. I choose which to use from their wide range of masks, depending on how my skin is that week. This week’s mask was chosen for it’s hydrating properties.
Skin care is important as we age because our skin begins to show the affects of sun damage and loss of tone. I took my skin for granted when I was younger which I really regret now. The products that I have recommended have helped me to improve my skin texture and tone. They can’t perform miracles but they can help my skin to be the best it can be at my stage of life.
Please let me know if there are any products you swear by. I’m always keen to try new skin products if they are suitable for sensitive skin and not too expensive.
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My Christmas wish list is a little different this year. What I really want for Christmas can’t be wrapped and placed under the tree. Christmas is a time for families to gather, often over a celebratory meal and the traditions like gift giving. In Australia it is one of the main celebrations of the year. Even if you don’t identify as Christian, most families gather together.
Most mothers take on the role of organising many of the Christmas traditions such as buying the gifts and preparing the food. It can be a busy time leading up to the day as mothers tend to take on the extra tasks so that Christmas can be a happy time for their family.
Every family has its own traditions for this time, whether it is watching the Carols by Candlelight, eating roast turkey, or going to Midnight Mass. There is often food that she traditionally cooks every year because it is someone’s favourite.
Every year there are a few things that I always cook. My son loves turkey, but it has to be one specific turkey that I cook. I was a single mother during their teens, and my budget didn’t stretch to buying a whole turkey. I cooked a rolled turkey thigh that was frozen – it was pretty grim. Even though I could now cook a whole turkey, my son insists on that awful rolled turkey thigh! Every year we laugh about it, but that is what I still cook for him!
My Christmas Wish List
As another Christmas looms, I have put some thought into the gifts on my wishlist. This year’s Christmas is sure to be extra special as most of us will be pleased to see the end of this very trying year. These are the gifts I would love:
My family to be united to celebrate Christmas
Security and safety for my family
Good health – everyone remains Covid free, with the prospect of a vaccine soon
My sons are happy with life and both stay employed in jobs that they enjoy
Our country remains free of natural disasters
Our leaders keep our country safe and our economy strong
We are free to travel and enjoy our freedom again
Peace and serenity, gratitude for all that we are blessed with
I am optimistic that I will receive all the gifts on my wishlist this Christmas. Wouldn’t it be a lovely celebration if we could all receive them? It wasn’t that long ago that we took most of this for granted, but after this year I don’t take anything for granted anymore.
The Gift I Most Desire
Time with my family is even more precious now, as both sons moved out leaving us empty nesters. The border was closed for most of the year meaning that I couldn’t see my family in New South Wales. Our family has had many health issues, not from Covid, but from cancer and other issues.
This year the emphasis won’t be on material gifts, it will be on celebrating together as a family. One of my brothers will be here, which will be lovely.
My other brother has sadly distanced himself from the rest of the family after our father passed away. It’s such a shame as dad’s dying wish was for all of us to be united as a family. The situation seems insurmountable as he refuses all attempts of reconciliation.
It may be the last year we spend with my mother-in-law too, as she has reached the palliative stage of lung cancer. We will treasure every moment we have with her.
This Christmas Will Be Different
This Christmas has taken on a different meaning for all of us. We now don’t take for granted that we can cross the state border, or gather together as a family group. Our health has been our focus and we no longer take that for granted either. It will be a relief that we made it through one of the most challenging years any of us has ever seen.
I am so grateful for a Christmas celebration with the most precious thing, my family.
What gifts do you most look forward to receiving? Are you wanting intangible gifts like me? If you enjoyed this article, you may also enjoy:
Revitalise yourself by attending a health and wellness retreat. Spending time in a retreat allows us to spend quality time in self care activities such as yoga, meditation and self reflection. Using this time to dedicate our attention on our own needs reminds us to value ourselves. We recognise that we are valuable enough to take time out of our busy schedules to refresh and revitalise ourselves. We can’t care for others if our own cup is empty.
I thought I was getting enough time for self care this year. It feels like the whole year has been devoted to self care. But I didn’t realise that I still had room for improvement in this area. Having spent the morning at the health and wellness retreat, I have discovered that there are some areas of my life that I need to concentrate on.
The Health and Wellness Retreat
The Health and Wellness Retreat was a yoga and self care retreat organised by Carol Wedenberg of Harmony and Healthy Yoga, and Sue Loncaric of Women Living Well After 50. It was a wonderful way to spend a morning. I finally got to meet Sue who I’ve known through blogging for the last year or so. Sue took the self care component of the retreat and it was very worthwhile.
Numala is a blissfully serene studio in the middle of the Gold Coast rainforest with only the sound of birds and a wind-chime to break the silence. All the equipment was good quality and clean. It was easy to feel relaxed and calm in this beautiful setting.
The group of ladies who were there were all on a similar path – trying to carve time out in their busy schedules for self care. We really felt supported to participate in the group sessions and we could relate to what the other ladies were saying. It is a testimony to Sue and Carol that they could inspire such warm connections within a group of people who were mostly strangers, in such a short period of time.
Creating a Self Care Plan
Sue’s Self Care session helped me to revisit those activities I once loved, that I no longer take time to do. Using those activities we then could create a self care plan to revitalise those activities in our daily schedule. There was an emphasis on creating a self care plan because we need to schedule time for ourselves just like all the other tasks we need to complete in a day.
One glaringly obvious area I have been neglecting is my creative side. That may seem strange when I spend much of my day writing my blog and creating infographics and images for it. But even though that is creative in a way, I’ve focused much of my blog on raising awareness of medical issues like breast cancer. Because of what I’ve gone through this year with my own health, I’ve begun to lose the joy of just writing, not with a mission in mind, but just for the creative release.
My Self Care Plan is About Revitalising My Creative Side
When we were children, mum encouraged our creative side through drawing, cartooning, writing and music. We were lucky to have such a creative and art-filled life. I’ve always loved being creative and expressing myself through writing. I feel that I need to return to my roots and write for pleasure again. I’ve signed up to a creative writing challenge during November to get those juices flowing again. I feel that if I start being creative again then my other writing will be more enjoyable as well.
Using the activities provided by Sue, I have created a self care plan that incorporates time to be creative. The insight and inspiration that I gained at the retreat helped me to focus on this area of myself that I have been neglecting. Making time in my schedule to be creative will now be a priority.
Yoga For Our Health and Wellness
My surgeon wants me to prepare my body for work again. My recovery from bilateral mastectomies has been very slow, but I’m now at the tail end of the recovery phase. One of the best things to happen this week was that my surgeon finally approved yoga. I’ve really missed it and I know that yoga will help strengthen my upper body again. His approval to recommence yoga practice came just in time.
Carol led us in two wonderful yoga sessions and a daily altar session at the health and wellness retreat. The yoga was challenging but she was very supportive of those of us who weren’t up to doing all the poses, while incorporating enough for the experienced yogis. It feels amazing to be able to do yoga again. Yoga is holistic and not only strengthens our bodies, it also strengthens our minds as it requires some concentration.
I normally do my yoga at home using a YouTube subscription as I find that works well for me. Knowing how out of shape I am I started right back at the beginning with beginners’ yoga. I’m waking up muscles that haven’t been used in a long time. My body is really feeling it – sore shoulders and neck, increased swelling in my chest and pain in my chest muscles. I know it will help and I’ve got to take it slowly and gradually work up my strength and stamina. Attending the retreat has inspired me to continue to build up my strength using yoga.
The Daily Altar
The daily altar was new to me and reminded me of being mindful – connecting to the natural environment and really seeing things we usually take for granted like leaves, coal, flowers and stones. I created my mandala with yellow leaves, black coal and purple flowers. They reminded me of how my year has been – like rising out of the ashes phoenix-like, and buds blooming into flowers.
Carol led us on a guided meditation to conclude the retreat. With only the sound of birds in the trees and the occasional soft sound from the wind-chime, we were lulled into a restful state. The meditation was blissful and the atmosphere was definitely enhanced by the setting.
Future Health and Wellness Retreats
I will definitely be signing up for any further retreats as I gained so much out of this one. It just goes to show you, we all could do with a reminder to spend time in self care activity. I received a lovely journal because I signed up as an early bird. I love it! The prompts are great and will really help me to get back into journaling again. When you write a lot for business (my blog) you don’t write for pleasure and I feel I need to do that again as I really miss it.
Sue and Carol plan to continue organising retreats, including online sessions for those who don’t live near the Gold Coast of Australia. Their websites are:
As you enter midlife, you will notice changes in your skin. The skin care regime you used in your youth will no longer suit your skin. This article will discuss how aging skin changes and give you some tips on caring for your skin as you age. You will learn how to choose anti-aging products for your skin and what to look for when you purchase skin care products.
Midlife brings with it changes to your skin. Fluctuating hormone levels during perimenopause leads to itchy, dry skin, and may even cause breakouts. My skin became oily and acne prone in my 40s. Now that I am in my 50s I have patches of dry skin, noticeable age spots and visible broken capillaries on my chin.
The affects of aging on skin
Aging affects skin in many ways, both on the surface of skin and below the outer layer. The effects of aging on our skin depends on various factors including lifestyle, diet and hereditary factors. In Australia and New Zealand we are exposed to harsh sunlight year round and eventually the damage we have accumulated catches up with us.
The affects of sun damage on skin
Damage from the sun is arguably the main cause of aging skin. Sun damage is called photoaging. UV light damages elastin fibres in the skin, which causes skin to sag, stretch and lose its ability to snap back if stretched. The skin bruises and tears more easily and takes longer to heal.
Lifestyle factors that affect your skin
Other causes of skin damage are pollution, stress, gravity, daily facial movement and sleep position. Gravity causes drooping of eyebrows and eyelids, and looseness and fullness under cheeks and jaw. Facial movement leads to the appearance of horizontal lines on your forehead, vertical lines above the nose, and small lines on the temples, cheeks and around your mouth.
One of the leading causes of aging skin is smoking. Smoking ages your skin by producing free radicals, once-healthy oxygen molecules that are now over-active and unstable. Free radicals damage cells, leading to premature wrinkles.
How Natural Aging Affects Skin
As we grow older, the following changes occur naturally:
Your skin becomes rougher,
Skin may develop lesions such as benign tumours,
Aging skin becomes less elastic and will hang loosely,
You may notice that your skin is more transparent. This is caused by the thinning of the epidermis (surface layer of the skin),
Skin becomes more fragile,
Your skin becomes more easily bruised due to thinner blood vessel walls,
Skin is dry and prone to itching due to the loss of oil glands.
Changes below the skin:
Changes also occur under the skin surface as we age:
Bone loss around the mouth and chin may cause puckering of the skin around the mouth,
Cartilage loss in the nose causes drooping of the nasal tip and accentuation of bones in the nose,
Loss of subcutaneous fat, especially on the cheeks, temples, chin, nose and eye area may cause loosening skin and sunken eyes.
Choose products that are suitable for your aging skin. Look for products with the following characteristics:
Choose hypoallergenic products if your skin is sensitive. Use mild unscented products to avoid irritating your skin. Look for creams with bakuchiol instead of Retinol. Avoid Fragrances, artificial dyes, coconut oil or butter which can clog pores and cause breakouts. Choose non-comedogenic or non-acnegenic products if your skin is prone to breakouts.
Use AHA or retinoid products to reduce aging. Retinoids (Vitamin A derivatives) promote cell turnover, stimulate collagen production and help even out skin tone. Peptides help repair skin damage. Antioxidants like Vitamins C and E help fight free radicals (unstable molecules that damage cells).
Moisturise after your shower to trap moisture in your skin. Choose products with hyaluronic acid, ceramides, shea butter and hydrators to lock in the moisture. An anti-aging moisturiser helps to minimise fine lines.
Buy products in dark opaque tubes as ingredients can become unstable and degrade when exposed to air or light. Store them in a cool, dark environment.
The following regime should be used when caring for your skin as you age:
Use a cleanser with a low pH to maintain optimal skin balance. Using a cleanser rather than soap preserves your skin barrier and keeps it resistant to dehydration and damage. Toner isn’t necessary if you use a cleanser with a low pH.
As you age your skin slows down its rejuvenation process. Dead skin cells aren’t replaced as quickly, leading to dull skin and an uneven skin tone. Exfoliation removes the dead skin cells and helps your skin appear clearer. Avoid harsh physical exfoliants such as sugar scrubs and products with beads. Use a chemical exfoliant for maturing skin, with ingredients such as alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA) like glycolic acid and lactic acid. These ingredients will also be in toners, serums and at-home peels. AHAs can fade uneven pigmentation and help hydrate your skin.
Use a Serum
Serums contain a higher concentration of active ingredients than a moisturiser. The best anti-aging ingredients are Vitamin A derivatives known as Retinoids (Retinol, Retinoin and Tazarotene), and Vitamin C. As well as increasing collagen in your skin they act as antioxidants to soak up biological and environmental oxidative stress that builds up to cause aging.
Moisturise your Skin
Aging leads to less sebum, which causes dryness and fine lines. Look for a moisturiser with water-binding humectants like glycerine and hyaluronic acid, and an occlusive like petrolatum and mineral oil to prevent water from evaporating.
Protect Your Skin from the Sun
Apply a broad spectrum sunscreen SPF 30+ to all exposed skin. Wear a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, long sleeved shirt and long pants where possible. Seek shade between 10a.m. and 2p.m. Daily sunscreen use can fade age spots, improve skin texture and flatten wrinkles by 20%. It allows the skin to take a break from harmful UV rays, and rejuvenate.
Avoid Trauma to Your Skin
Take into account that older skin is more fragile when caring for your skin as you age. Avoid strong tugging and rubbing as you wash your face and apply skin care products.
See a beautician for a taylored skincare regime if you can afford it. I had a series of facials leading up to my wedding six years ago because my skin had broken out with the onset of menopause. I don’t currently have the funds for a beautician, so I do my own facials at home.
Use a hydrating face mask weekly and you will notice the difference. Using a night cream has also improved my skin noticeably. Make sure you test all new products on a small area of your skin before you start using them.
Caring for your skin as you age should be part of your daily routine in midlife. My recommendations for anti-aging products are in this article. I would love to hear if you have found any great products or routines so please feel free to comment. If you enjoyed this article, you may also enjoy the following:
My blog Midlifestylist is one year old. Midlifestylist celebrated its first birthday on 24 October. It has been a year of many challenges for myself personally, as well as a huge learning curve for my blog. I started Midlifestylist because I wanted to promote a healthy lifestyle to midlifers. Along the way it’s developed into much more than that. Many of my readers are outside of that age range.
I started off thinking my blog would mainly focus on weight-loss and midlife interests. Because of my health issues this year, the direction of Midlifestylist changed to promoting health and raising awareness of cancer and other hereditary illnesses.
I had minimal technical experience prior to starting my blog and have had to learn everything from the beginning. I’m proud of how far I’ve come. I started my blog on WordPress.com not realising that using that platform would limit me unless I paid for a business plan which is way above my budget. Changing over to a self hosted platform was extremely challenging. I’m glad I did it but I’ve had to learn everything from scratch and through trial and error. My website is almost the way I want it now, after a lot of work.
The Best and Worst Aspects of Blogging
The most rewarding part of blogging has been all the wonderful people I’ve “met” online. The blogging community is so supportive and I’m proud to be part of it. I didn’t realise that there was this community before I started.
The aspect of blogging that has been the least enjoyable is the constant self promotion that is required. I’d really rather be writing than promoting my blog on social media. It’s a necessary evil though, if I want people to actually read my blog.
I’ve had some very positive feedback over the past year. If I can improve just one person’s life in some way then it’s all been worth it. My family are very supportive even if they don’t read it!
Promoting a Healthy Lifestyle Through My Blog
Having my blog has been a Godsend this year while I’ve been stuck at home recovering from my surgeries. It has helped me to channel my need for helping people while I haven’t been able to work as a nurse. I have been able to promote a healthy lifestyle and keep my mind active while doing something worthwhile.
Thankyou to my regular readers and to the people who have supported me over the last year. Thanks to other bloggers who have shared my articles, commented on my posts, and allowed me to be a guest on their blog. Your support has been valued very highly.
Regular health checks ensure you stay fit and healthy. Many health problems are not apparent without health checks. Regular checks you do yourself keep you in tune with your body. A medical practitioner must also perform some checks. This article will explain why it is important to have regular health checks, including several you can do yourself. It also includes a recommended schedule for health checks that your doctor will do.
The advantages of a regular health check-up
The most important reason to have regular health check-ups is the early detection of diseases such as heart disease and cancer. Treatment is much more successful if caught at an early stage, before complications have set in. Many life threatening diseases have little to no symptoms. For example, kidney failure. Other health issues may have symptoms that are vague or mistaken for other conditions. Symptoms such as fatigue can relate to many different causes. Vague symptoms are often explained by lifestyle factors such as being busy. Without regular checkups a health issue can be overlooked until you develop a serious illness.
My Back Pain Masked a Serious Health Condition
I have a chronic degenerative spinal condition which is very common in nurses. CT scans and bone scans show degeneration in the fascia joints in my spine. When my back pain intensified, my doctor prescribed a cortisone injection under CT guidance. This successfully treated the pain, so I had them regularly with improvement in my pain.
When I developed severe back pain on the opposite side of the degeneration my GP prescribed stronger pain killers. I suffered for over two years, believing the pain was caused by degeneration. I did not really understanding why my pain was on the opposite side. It wasn’t until I developed complications after surgery this year that it was found that I had hydronephrosis. The back pain was actually caused by a blockage which caused the urine to reflux back into my kidney.
This would have led to serious kidney problems if it hadn’t been detected as an incidental finding. I’m a Registered Nurse and I hadn’t even suspected my back pain was kidney related. This is one example of how serious health issues can be overlooked, especially if they can be tied in with existing, known health issues.
The health checks you can do yourself
You can do many health checks yourself. If you find anything concerning, you can then see a doctor. Get to know your own body by doing these regular health checks:
Skin – Regularly check your skin, taking note of any moles, freckles and skin blemishes. A doctor, preferably at a specialised skin cancer clinic, should assess any changes. The doctors at skin cancer clinics are experienced in assessing skin. They use specialised equipment designed to detect early skin changes. Early changes that might indicate skin cancer can be treated before they develop further.
Weight – check once per week. It is a good idea to keep an eye on your waist circumference as well. Any waist measurement over 88cm (35 inches) for women and 102cm (40 inches) for men may mean you are at high risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. See my article Why Your Waist Measurement Matters for more information.
Dental – Dentists should examine any lesions and bleeding that don’t resolve in a week. Clean teeth at least daily and use floss as your oral health is vital for overall well-being. Have a regular checkup and clean by a dentist at least yearly.
Mental and emotional health – seek medical help if you have symptoms of anxiety, intense sadness, fatigue, insomnia or changes in appetite that don’t resolve after a month or two.
In addition to the above, women need to do monthly breast self examinations. See my article How to Perform a Breast Self Examination (and Why) for a complete guide. Men need to perform a testicular self examination monthly from puberty onwards. See your doctor if there is any unusual thickening or lumps.
The health checks your doctor will do
Have a regular check-up with your doctor every two years. Be aware of your family health history as it may mean you need screening more often – see my article Know Your Personal and Family Health History for more information. Your doctor should be able to tell you if you are at high risk for certain diseases. Additional screening to the following may be recommended.
The recommended health checks for both men and women:
Skin checks: Yearly
Heart health – blood pressure every two years from age 40, more often if you have a family history of high blood pressure, stroke or heart disease. You should also have your blood tested to check for high cholesterol and triglycerides every 5 years from age 45, more often if high risk. If you are high risk you may also have an ECG (electrocardiogram) or cardiac echo, which are both non-invasive checks. A one-off test is offered at age 45-49 to screen for high risk of heart disease.
Bowel screening every two years from age 50. (A bowel screen kit will be sent to your home if you are an Australian resident)
Sexual health – yearly if sexually active. See your doctor immediately if you have pain, discharge, lesions or if you have unprotected sex.
Eye tests for glaucoma and macular degeneration – every two years after age 40s if you have a family history. From age 65 if you notice vision deterioration.
Bone density from the age of 45 (women) or 50 (men) if at risk for example, a family history of osteoporosis.
Diabetes – A fasting blood sugar test. A one-off test is offered at age 45-49 to screen for high risk of type 2 diabetes. Those at high risk of Type 2 Diabetes should be checked 1-3 yearly. 3 yearly for people not at risk, from the age of 40. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders should start 3 yearly checks from age 18.
Hearing Impairment – a hearing assessment yearly after age 65.
Kidney disease – every 1-2 years if at high risk.
Immunity – Flu shots (Influenza vaccinations) yearly after age 65. If you are high risk or work in the health care industry you should also have Influenza and Hepatitis B vaccinations.
Health Checks for Women
In addition to the above health checks, women should have:
Cervical screening every 5 years from the time you are sexually active. The cervical screening Test has replaced the Pap Smear. It should be started at age 25 or two years after your last Pap Smear.
Breast screening every 2 years from age 50-74. If you are high risk you will be offered screening from a younger age and more frequently. For example, I have been having yearly mammograms and ultrasounds plus MRIs every 2 years because of my high risk. Some women have them more frequently than that, depending on your doctor’s preference.
Health Checks for Men
In addition to the above health checks, men should have:
Prostate – Annual prostate checks from age 50, earlier if you have a family history. This involves a blood test (PSA), and may include a digital rectal examination. See your doctor if you have trouble urinating, pain, blood in your urine, night-time urination frequently, or incontinence.
Be an Advocate for your own Health
You are the best advocate for your own health. If you suspect you have a health issue, see your doctor. If you are unhappy with the outcome, seek another opinion. You know your own body. Keep track of the symptoms, write them down, and identify any patterns. If you are unsure of whether you should see a doctor, refer to my article Signs You Need to See a Doctor.
Let your doctor know of any family history of disease. Keep track of your personal and family health history – see this article for more information. Most important, keep up with your health screening and the regular health checks you should be having.
Please note: I am a Registered Nurse of 30 years but I am unable to give specific medical advice. If you are concerned please see your GP. Screening schedules may differ depending on where you live. The schedule recommended here is for guidance only. This post is for general informational and educational purposes only. Please refer to the disclaimer.
Further reading: While researching this article, I found the most thorough information at the following websites:
The statistics on breast cancer are troubling. Even with all the research and new treatments available, there are still 55 new breast cancer diagnoses daily. The most important detection for early breast cancer is regular breast self examination. This post will inform you of how to perform a breast self examination correctly, and other important facts to be aware of.
Early Detection of Breast Cancer Leads to Higher Survival Rates
If breast cancer is caught early there is a very high chance of survival. A monthly breast self examination is the best way to detect early breast cancer because every woman’s breasts are different. If you know how your breasts usually look and feel, you will be in the best position to identify early changes and seek medical attention. Some breast changes are very subtle so it is important to know what to look for. The most important thing is to check your breasts monthly. Some guides say to do it on the first of every month, and some say after your monthly period ends. Post menopausal women should do theirs on the first of the month.
I have seen a number of ways to perform breast self examination. I have always done mine in the shower with soapy, slippery skin. Some women prefer to do theirs lying down. What matters the most is that you check all parts of your breast including up to your collar bone and under the armpit. Here is an excellent video which shows very clearly the correct procedure:
Signs and Symptoms to Watch For During Your
Breast Self Examination
The signs and symptoms to watch for are:
Changes in the size or shape of your breast
Dimpling or a ‘pulling’ of skin on your breast
Any new lumps in the breast or under your arm
Breast pain or swelling (pain is rare)
Discharge of fluid (except breast milk) from the nipple, including blood
Dry, flaky red skin around the nipple area
If any of these symptoms are found, make an appointment to see your General Practitioner as soon as possible. Some women have no symptoms and the cancer is found during a routine mammogram or physical examination by a doctor. Mammograms should be done two yearly between the ages of 50 to 74. Breast Screen Australia provides a free screening service for women aged 50 to 74. Free screening is also available for women aged 40 to 49 and over 74, if requested. It is recommended that women with a strong history of breast or ovarian cancer are screened from an earlier age.
If symptoms are found, further testing may be required including ultrasound, biopsy and other scans such as a CT Scan or MRI. Treatments depend on the size and type of tumour, whether it has spread, and your general health.
Preventing Breast Cancer
Some factors that increase your risk of breast cancer include:
inheritance of mutations in the genes BRCA1, BRCA2 and CHEK2
Exposure to female hormones (natural and administered)
a previous breast cancer diagnosis
a past history of certain non-cancerous breast conditions
While you can’t do much about your genetic history, there are lifestyle factors that can impact your chances of getting breast cancer. These include:
not enough physical activity
exposure to radiation
Know Your Breast Cancer Risk
I have written about my own diagnosis of BRCA2 gene mutation, which lead to my bilateral prophylactic mastectomies. It is important to know your risk because the presence of a gene mutation or family history of breast and ovarian cancers, could dramatically increase your risk. My risk before surgery was 60-80% as opposed to the general female population of around 13%. The only effective way I could guarantee that I would not get breast cancer was to have my breast tissue removed. It was a “no brainer” for me – the type of cancer that people with BRCA2 get is often the worst type with a very low survival rate. I did not even want to take that risk.
It has been a life changing decision for me because I had complications – I haemorrhaged post operatively. I’m still recovering 5 months later and have not been able to return to work. It may seem strange to say that I still don’t regret that decision.
I found out this past weekend that my brother has Stage 4 Prostate Cancer, undoubtedly from BRCA2. My mother-in-law has terminal lung cancer and only has a few weeks to live. The high incidence of cancer in my family gives me a lot of anxiety around it. Mum passed away at my age from cancer, and dad died from pancreatic and prostate cancer (BRCA2). My son had a melanoma at 24, and two of my siblings also had melanomas. Some families seem to cop a large burden, and ours is one of them.
Don’t Ignore Symptoms
One of the messages I want to convey is never to ignore symptoms. I have written about this previously in Signs You Need to See a Doctor. Be an advocate for your own health because without it daily life is so much harder.
Please share this article – it may help someone you care for. If you enjoyed this you may like my previous post October is For Breast Cancer Awareness which lists my previous posts about my BRCA2 diagnosis and surgeries.
Note: This post is for general informational and education purposes only. Please refer to my disclaimer.