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The change of life or a new adulthood?

Published:Wednesday | June 6, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Dr Tomlin Paul, Contributor

Since around the late teens up to now, you have been fairly busy doing a lot of things! Some of these include studying, finding a job, changing jobs, working, studying again, having children, taking care of children, managing a relationship, finding a home.

Now that you are in your 50s or approaching there, the intensity of attention to these things is hopefully declining. Your life train is coming to the end of the first adulthood. And what a ride it has been!

Change at age 50

The timing for the often referred to 'change of life' comes just around 50 for women when the period stops. This phase called menopause sees a fall in oestrogen hormone levels and can bring physical and even emotional stress, although women respond differently at an individual level and across cultures.

Some women consider the end of fertility as liberating; others may see it as a dispiriting loss.

Your attitude and expectations can make a big difference in how you feel during this time. Although testosterone hormone levels fall slowly in men around the 50s, the pace and level of change are not as great as we see with the menopause and so there is less of an impact.

But the reality is that all of our lives we are changing. Adolescence for instance brings some major 'change of life' issues. Doesn't it? In the 50s we need to get rid of the fear and stigma when we think of change of life. We must think of it more broadly and positively. Jamaicans on average are living up to their mid-70s. So after taking on life's challenges from your the late teens up to this time, you now have another phase after 50 to take on life. This is your second adulthood!

Whenever I drive to Ocho Rios I stop at Faith's Pen after the winding hills of Mount Rosser. Stopping to get a roasted corn (one of my favourites!) and a cold drink gets me refreshed for the second half of the journey. If you see your life as one long journey, you can end up becoming quite tired and miserable in your 50s. So whether man or woman, don't focus on change of life with anticipation of a list of bad things coming. Refresh yourself for the next half of the journey.

After your first adulthood, regardless of what you say, you are more experienced in the driver's seat of life, smarter and tougher and more independent. You now have more tools to redefine many areas of your life. You can take some risk and do some new things whether a hobby or a different job or even make your hobby your new job.

As you begin to review and even shed some of the major roles of life you will discover that there is a whole lot of you lying underneath to be explored. Isn't that exciting? So stop dreading a negative change of life and start tweaking, re-inventing and exploring new possibilities in your second adulthood.

Dr Tomlin Paul is a family physician at Health Plus Associates in Kingston; email: