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Florida Seniors the Focus During Women's Health Month

By Gina Jordan

Tallahassee, FL – The growing needs of Florida's female residents, especially those over age sixty, are the focus of a campaign by two state agencies. May is recognized as Older Americans Month and Women's Health Month.

Dozens of older women exercising at Tallahassee's Walker-Ford Community Center served as the backdrop as Florida Surgeon General Dr. Ana Viamonte-Ros said it is never too late to start living healthy.

"Sometimes living longer means that we're living with additional health challenges, or at the very least being concerned about the potential of developing new health challenges during the later years. The top health concerns for mature women are cancer, heart disease, and stroke."

The Florida Department of Health offers programs and some direct services to help women learn about symptoms and risk factors. As an example, Viamonte-Ros said, "The Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program allows qualified women around the state between the ages of 50 and 64 to access breast and cervical screening exams, diagnostic exams, and in some cases, even paid breast and cervical cancer treatment through Medicaid for eligible women. As of January 2010, over 65-thousand women received mammograms and over 44-thousand women had pap tests through this program."

Women's Health Week follows Mother's Day. Elder Affairs Secretary Doug Beach says older moms are at risk of diabetes, hip fractures from falls, and depression. He says older Americans have the highest suicide rate of any age group.

"According to the National Center on Caregiving, almost three out of four caregivers are women. Women, especially female spouses, are also more likely to handle the most stressful care giving and that includes bathing and dressing. The stress of care giving puts female caregivers at an increased risk of anxiety, depression and accidental falls."

The Department of Elder Affairs offers programs and support for caregivers. Beach says even a couple of hours a week can help. Nearly 2.5-women over the age of sixty live in Florida.

For more information, call the state's toll-free Elder Helpline at 1-800-96-ELDER; that's 1-800-963-5337.