Older Women: Our Beacon of Hope
By: Duyifan “Kitty” Yin, MN, RN, BScN, Global Nurse Consultant, SE Health
Enxia Wei stands proudly on stage, overlooking a crowd of more than a hundred people. At 72, she is just as fierce, passionate, and charismatic as she was in her early 40s. Dressed in a bright red dress, a yellow silk scarf, and sparkly sneakers, Enxia breaks the mold of an older, Chinese Canadian woman—who, might I add—was also a producer, single-mother, drama-enthusiast and wildly successful automotive entrepreneur. Though Enxia may be unique, her experience as an older woman, is surprisingly universal.
Older persons, especially older women, are currently underserved in modern society. Though older women on average live longer than men, they have less lifetime earnings, may face loneliness and isolation, and suffer from poor health caused by lack of research on women (WHC, 2022) The collision of discrimination based on sex and age, gendered-ageism, has a compounding effect on the lives of women who are older.
This prevalent societal issue was recently highlighted in Samvedna Senior Care’s panel presentation on the Resilience and Contributions of Older Women. As one of the top senior care companies in India, Samvedna uses technology-based tools to provide mental health support to patients with dementia, their caregivers, and families.
Archana Sharma, Founder and CEO of Samvedna, professed older women to be the “silent administrators”, managers, and center of the family unit. Though essential to the flourishment of families and societies, women are often taken for granted for their intangible work. For example, panelists highlighted the incredible contributions older women make but are often unrecognized for, such as taking care of their children/grand-children, spouses, and extended family, sometimes at the expense of meeting their own needs. One tool to help one assess one's own mental wellbeing is The Mental Wellbeing Self-Assessment Tool. Samvedna’s CEO, Sharma, recommended this resource for caregivers, family members, and older adults to get a sense of their psychological wellness. Panelist, author, consultant, Rima Pande shared her book, His Voice, on her personal caregiving journey for her father who had dementia. Moreover, SE Health’s Kitty Yin, MN, RN, highlighted Elizz.com, a virtual support platform for family and caregivers of older persons created by Canada’s oldest social enterprise. For those interested, Elizz.com offers helpful, easily-applied content for caregivers and family in five different languages in video, audio, text, and visuals.
So, what are some concrete things we can do continue this important conversation on the resilience and contributions of older women? Here are some thought-provoking questions to get you started.
- Reach out to a woman that is special in your life and tell her how much you appreciate her—and be specific!
- Reflect upon the invisible work women do in the background within our families, community, and world at large. How does this impact the older women in your life?
- How does your culture and community celebrate the contributions of older women? What more can be done in your sphere of influence to celebrate older women?
- WCH. (2022). Gendered ageism campaing. Retrieved from https://www.womensresearch.ca/womens-age-lab/news-and-publications-wal/gendered-ageism-campaign
- RTOERO. (2021). Webinar: The Women’s Age Lab and gendered ageism with focus on older women. Retrieved from https://rtoero.ca/webinar-the-womens-age-lab-and-gendered-ageism-with-focus-on-older-women/
- Samvedna Seniors Care. (2022). About us. Retrieved from https://www.samvednacare.com/about
- Samvedna Seniors Care. (2022). Resilience and contribution of older women [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0tPkWchFm5w
- Samvedna Seniors Care. (2022). Mental wellbeing self-assessment. Retrieved from https://www.samvednacare.com/assessment/mental-wellbeing-self-assessment
- Pande, R. (2021). His voice. Amazon. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/58482490-his-voice
- SE Health. (2022). Elizz. Retrieved from https://elizz.com/