Tuesday, February 20, 2007

It Ain't Personal...It's Menopause!

You're sitting at your desk and suddenly, out of the corner of your eye, you see your middle-aged female co-worker sweating and fanning herself with a perplexing look on her face. She looks like she might need help so you walk over to offer assistance. Instead of accepting it, she gives you the evil eye and tells you to leave her alone or abruptly walks away. Now, you're angy. You were only trying to help. But don't take it personal---It's only menopause.

As a baby boomer who dealt with menopause and the workplace, I know first-hand how challenging the environment can be for everybody. Nearly half of the workforce is made up of women which means millions of workers will be affected, at some point, by the physical and emotional changes brought about by a woman going through menopause. The time is long overdue for businesses to implement some type of menopause health awareness program so younger employees and male bosses may gain a better understanding of what they may be up against in the "heat" of a moment. Too often women going through the change are viewed as being insubordinate by their male bosses or a B**** by younger employees.

There are more than 30 symptoms of menopause with the most serious being hot flashes and mood swings. A change in personality at any given moment on the job could easily be misinterpreted and create unnecessary conflict unless it is recognized as a hormonal imbalance.

Years ago, menopause was considered a taboo subject causing many women to suffer in silence and to feel ashamed or made to believe they were having a mental breakdown over what they were experiencing. This is not our mother's menopause so there is no reason to be embarrassed or silent about what we're going through.

Some of the things employers need to address are:

Uncomfortable working temperature

Poor ventilation

Easy access to drinking water

Healthy eating options at work

Difficulty getting time off from work for doctor appts.

Negative attitudes towards menopause/older women

Ms. Mahone is a veteran journalist, author and baby boomer expert who writes about issues affecting baby boomers in her book, "Whatever! A Baby Boomer's Journey Into Middle Age. She is available for interviews and can be reached at: 301-356-6280 or bmahone@nc.rr.com. To learn more about Ms. Mahone, visit her website: http://www.talk2bev.com

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