Inaugural Vail Health event invites women over 40 to embrace a whole-body approach to health and wellness


In May, Vail Health is hosting its first-ever women’s specific wellness event for women over the age of 40 to help guide them toward health and happiness. The free event at The Westin Riverfront in Avon will share tips and local resources for longevity, hormone changes, pelvic health, skincare, nutrition and behavioral health.

“Women live longer than men — the data is exceptionally clear — but one of the things that we don’t often talk about is how to make that longevity have quality, meaning and value,” said Dr. Paige Baker-Braxton, the director of outpatient behavioral health services at Vail Health Behavioral Health.

The event — which the hospital is calling, “Flourish: A Springtime Celebration of Women’s Wellness” — will feature local speakers, informational and interactive tables with local experts as well as opportunities to network and connect. The Eagle-based Flower Hound shop will also be hosting a table on how to create flower arrangements.

“This event is going to give a comprehensive overview of health and wellness for women and what resources exist in our community,” said Sally Welsh, Vail Health’s director of public relations. “We have a plethora of resources, and raising awareness of them and ensuring that women feel supported using them is a huge goal of this event.”

In tailoring it to women over 40, the event aims to hit a demographic that is often overlooked.

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“We’re in a valley where we have an increasing number of aging adults and a lot of our programming and recreation is kind of focused on the younger generations,” Baker-Braxton said. “And this gives us an opportunity to really provide tangible takeaways for women in the community.”

Whole-body health

At the event, speakers from Vail Health Behavioral Health — including Baker-Braxton — as well as from Colorado Mountain Medical’s OB/GYN practice will give presentations on women-specific health tips.

However, additional tables will offer opportunities to connect one-on-one on topics of nutrition, longevity, pelvic changes and more. These tables will have local doctors and experts from the Shaw Cancer Center, Howard Head Sports Medicine and Colorado Mountain Medical.

Dr. Melissa O’Meara, an internal medicine physician at Colorado Mountain Medical, will be hosting one of these tables on how women can optimize their health in the future.

“My message is women’s health is whole-body health; to be a healthy person is to take care of more than one organ system,” O’Meara said. “I talk to a lot of patients who are looking to optimize their health. They’re young, active and want to remain so for the next 40 years of their life. We talk about goal setting and what they need to be doing now to help maintain the active, healthy lifestyles that they’re used to.”

In her practice, she’s seen how “as life phases change, you have different priorities,” O’Meara added.

“Sometimes many women are very familiar with what they need to keep their bodies operating on a healthy basis, but some are not,” she said.

As such, O’Meara hopes the event will provide women with an opportunity to increase health literacy and plan for the future.

Considering the whole body includes understanding how behavioral health fits into the picture as well. This is part of the message Baker-Braxton hopes to share in her presentation at the event.

“We often talk about behavioral health in a silo, but behavioral health is integrated into your hormonal health, your reproductive health, and all of those things are at the foundation of purpose, meaning and longevity,” she said.

As such, Baker-Braxton hopes to open the event by building “a foundation around behavioral health, community connectedness, coping skills and how to leverage that for better physical health and longevity.”

It’s particularly important in the Vail Valley.

“We’re in this strange community where we are a rural community and we experience a lot of the social determinants of health that impact rural communities like isolation, a historic lack of behavioral health resources, increased substance use, particularly alcohol. We also have this secondary component of being a resort community where we have a lot of wealth, resources and things that are accessible,” Baker-Braxton said.

Additionally, the community sees more risk of behavioral health concerns for women, especially those over 40.

“I plan to talk about the health disparities that women experience. For example, women are twice as likely to experience depression or anxiety. They’re exponentially more likely to experience an eating disorder and more likely to experience trauma in their life,” Baker-Braxton said.

In sharing this, she hopes to reduce stigma, create opportunities for connection and share tips for helping women build resilience as well as to overcome and manage behavioral health issues.

The importance of community 

In addition to providing tips and resources at the wellness event, Vail Health hopes that it will bring women together — something that is also a critical component of whole-person health.

“Community and social connectedness is — not to be a spoiler alert — but is the antidote to behavioral health concerns, particularly for women in this demographic,” Baker-Braxton said. “This is both an opportunity to get education, but more importantly, it’s an opportunity for community-building of like-minded people.”

Having the tables also provides an opportunity for one-on-one connection with providers as well, O’Meara said.

“It gives the opportunity to impart important information, but also allows people to approach and have more of an intimate conversation and seek out the information that pertains most to them. Because that’s the entire message for the women’s health is it’s not one-size-fits-all,” she said. “It is very much about personal empowerment to allow women to pursue the health needs that are most important to them.”

Similarly, Baker-Braxton said she hopes women “take away a renewed commitment to their health and wellness.”


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