Middle-Aged Women Reveal Their Biggest Worries
Here are their greatest concerns. Maybe these are your greatest concerns, too.
It’s Saturday morning and I’m still in bed when my phone rings. It’s the medical alert system attached to my mom’s necklace that activates when she falls. I pick up immediately. They tell me an ambulance is on the way to my mom’s apartment since they have not received a response to the alarm. I call my mom, but she doesn’t pick up, so I drive over there right away. Thankfully, she was fine but frustrated. She’d tried to call them back, but the ambulance had already arrived. Her lifeline necklace has been a useful safety device, but it is very sensitive, which causes many false alarms.
My 82-year-old mother is visually impaired and has neuropathy in her legs, so living alone is a challenge she endures every day. We all want her to remain as independent as possible during these years. I’m so glad she can still have a good life with the constant help of me and my sister and all her wonderful friends.
But I worry about her all the time, and about my dad, who lives over 1,000 miles away. I am acutely aware of what is to come as their health declines. There will be a lot of difficult decisions and painful emotions that my siblings and I will be forced to face. I’m anxious about all the complicated details of managing their medical care and financial affairs and all the stressful work that will entail.
Later this Saturday afternoon, I’ll wait excitedly for my weekly call from my college kid who will be graduating this spring. I soak in every minute I can while she fills me in on her busy life over 500 miles away. I miss her terribly and no matter how strong and secure and independent she is growing up to be, I’ll never stop worrying about her safety and well-being. I often wonder what she’ll do and where she’ll live after graduating, and I hope and pray she builds a successful life for herself that is fulfilling.
I’m midway through my 50s, and my concerns are shifting dramatically. Now I’m facing new fears and worries as my kids and my parents are getting much older, and the enormity of it can be all-consuming.
The conversations I have with my husband have changed from day-to-day child-rearing and bill-paying, to our financial retirement and future plans. We often talk about what we will be able to afford and where we will live when our last kid leaves for college. We worry about the economy and how that will impact our financial stability and security. We focus more on the details and decisions we will have to make with our almost-grown kids and my aging parents. There are a lot of questions still to be answered in these critical areas of our lives and we’re doing the best we can with what little we know and the resources we have to figure it all out.
There are big changes that occur for most women in their 50s, although everyone has different experiences. I have friends this age who have already lost both their parents and others who have even retired. Some have kids still at home while others have grandkids by now. Some friends have developed serious medical issues, and others are running marathons. All of our worries will fluctuate when we need to concentrate on those unexpected events that sometimes take place. But most women around this age are heading toward some big life changes and there’s a lot of uncertainty ahead.
When I asked my friends who are in their 50s what they worry about most, almost all of them included their aging parents and older kids’ independence, along with their financial retirement and personal health. Some added the following concerns, worth sharing because I feel much of the same. You might, too.
“I fear being alone if my husband dies before me.”
“I worry about me or anyone I love being a victim of a crime. It’s so terrible out there now, I worry someone will get shot or stabbed or kidnapped or robbed.”
“I worry that my health just goes downhill from here and I’m afraid of what that will look like in the years to come.”
“I worry about my kids and grandkids having to navigate living in our country and world that is so nutty and out of control.”
“I worry that my thoughts and opinions won’t matter to the world anymore.”
“I worry I didn’t prepare my kids well enough to be on their own.”
“I constantly worry about what my new normal will be now that all my kids have moved far away.”
It seems there’s a lot to worry about in this next chapter of our lives as we and the people we love continue to age.
Getting older isn’t easy, and it’s sometimes scary, but I still enjoy being in my 50s. At this point, we know that much of life is about learning how to live the best you can while being grateful for what you have. And that’s exactly what we are all going to do as we travel the road ahead.
What keeps you up at night? Let us know in the comments below.