08/20/2013 08:02 am ET

5 Things Midlife Women Must Carry In Their Purses


You never know when you are going to be called to the stage on TV's "Let's Make A Deal" and asked to produce a hair net in exchange for $100 or a chance to win bigger prizes. But that's not the only reason smart midlifers "come prepared." Here are 5 things women should always carry in their purse -- besides the normal "junk in the trunk" like our cell phones, wallets, makeup and tissues.

1) An uncoated aspirin.
People who think they may be having a heart attack should chew a 325 mg aspirin as quickly as possible, says the Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide. For the best results, doctors say, chew -- don't swallow. And don’t use an enteric-coated tablet, which is slower-acting, even when chewed. Take the aspirin first and then call 911, followed by a call to your doctor.

2) A few pieces of hard candy.
Hypoglycemia is a condition commonly known as low blood sugar. In diabetics, it's called insulin shock. The symptoms can include shakiness, nervousness or anxiety, sweats/chills/clamminess, confusion, rapid heartbeat, dizziness, blurred vision, and a tingling or numbness in the lips or tongue. If you or a loved one is diabetic, the American Diabetes Association suggests carrying 15 to 20 grams of glucose or simple carbohydrates with you. This could be glucose tablets, 2 tablespoons of raisins, a one-ounce pack of sugar or honey, or hard candies, jellybeans or gum drops (see package to determine how many to consume).

Diabetes disproportionately affects older adults. Approximately 25 percent of Americans over the age of 60 years have diabetes, and aging of the U.S. population is widely acknowledged as one of the drivers of the diabetes epidemic, says the ADA.

3) Condoms.
Online dating and medications for erectile dysfunction have been a boon to the post 50 population. "People over 50 are more social than ever and more are having sex! That's the good news," we reported here earlier this summer. The downsize to that is that people over 50 are contracting sexually transmitted diseases more than ever before. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that the the number of syphilis and chlamydia cases in adults aged 45 to 64 tripled between 2000 and 2010. The STD rates in areas heavily populated by retirees are even higher.

While we may not be at risk of pregnancy anymore, nothing beats a condom for safer sex.

4) Coins for the parking meter.
Yes, we understand that many parking meters today take credit and debit cards. But the point is, not all do. Who wants to be circling the block for 20 minutes to score a primo spot at the curb only to find out that it only takes coins? Anyone remember the time when cars had little coin slots in them so that you could keep a stash handy for paying highway tolls and feeding meters?

5) A pen.
The world may be divided between those who carry them and those who borrow them from those of us who do. How many times have you been on an international flight and had to beg strangers to use their pen to fill out your landing card? With phones that can cross off items on our grocery lists and send us reminder notes, it almost seems unnecessary to stick a pen in your purse. You'd be surprised how many times you need one -- an actually pen, not a stylus.

Even the stalwarts on Reddit smiled favorably on the idea of carrying a pen. As one poster said, "Always carry a pen, A. because you'll use it and B. because it shows others you're important enough to need one."


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