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Aging: Menopause Interventions for "The Change"
Menopause continuing education psychologist CEUs

Section 1
Track #1 - Using the Age Acceptance Technique to Foster Self-Esteem

CEU Question 1 | CEU Answer Booklet | Table of Contents | Introduction | Geriatric & Aging
Psychologist CEs, Counselor CEUs, Social Worker CEUs, MFT CEUs

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New Content Added: To update the content we have added Menopause information found at the end of the Table of Contents.

On this track, we will discuss three motives for and manifestations of denial in women who are beginning menopause.  These three denial motives and manifestations include:  disbelief; fear of appearing weak; and youth obsessed culture.

3 Denial Motives

Share on Facebook #1 Disbelief
The first concept of denial is the manifestation of disbelief.  Some women, when faced with the idea that they might be menopausal, try to reason themselves out of this possibility.  Some may try to convince themselves that they are not old enough, and others will try to find other reasons for their hot flashes and memory fog. 

Because most women can talk themselves out of accepting menopause, they do not seek treatment for the physical or emotional effects.  By not seeking guidance from a gynecologist, they may develop osteoporosis and risk severe breakage.  However, on the psychological side, not seeking aid can become extremely damaging to mental health.  Many women will develop depression and a fear of loss of sexual drive

Helen, age 46, had been experiencing frequent, severe hot flashes.  Also, she described an acute loss of memory.  When I suggested the possibility of menopause, Helen stated, “That’s impossible!  I’m much too young to begin menopause!  I still feel young at heart and I’m not even 50 yet!  I know the average age is 50, so I’m still four years off.  I know my body, these hot flashes are just some freak accidents.”  Because Helen had convinced herself that she could not possibly be experiencing menopause, she would find it difficult to accept these new changes to her body. 

I stated to Helen, “You’re right, Helen.  The average age is actually 50.8 years.  However, that is just the average, not a requirement.  It indicates that there are those women who start later and those women who start earlier on their menopause.  Have you considered the fact that you may just be one of those women who is starting earlier than average?  Is it possible that you find this a difficult realization to come to, so you decide to rationalize your symptoms?”  Helen stated, “I just hate thinking that I’m getting old!” 

As you can see, Helen had not completely convinced herself that she was starting menopause, but rather she did not want to come to grips with aging.  Think of your Helen.  What justifications has she thought up in order to explain her menopausal symptoms?  What would you say to help her accept this unavoidable change to her body?

Share on Facebook #2 Appearing Weak
The second concept of denial is the motive to avoid appearing weak.  Women who begin to experience menopause, especially women who are actively involved with professional careers, believe that the signs of menopause are actually signs of weakness.  Many women believe that men in their profession will respect them less if it becomes known they are dealing with what they may believe is a debilitating hormonal disorder.  Some of these insecurities arise with an imbalance in the genders with regard to aging. 

Most women believe that when men age, they are believed to become wiser and more experienced, and therefore are more professionally sought after.  However, when women age, they become less professionally appealing, although they may have as much experience as a man.  Much of this stereotype comes from the fact that menopause creates a “cranky” woman, which therefore translates into an “unstable” woman who may be detrimental to the company. 

Pauline, age 52, stated, “At first, I didn’t want to tell anyone I’d started, and I definitely didn’t want to tell myself.  Stupid me!  That means I didn’t get any estrogen replacements and my hormones went through the roof!  I’ve been a little more snappy than normal to my assistants and some of my colleagues, and everyone has noticed!  They have also noticed that my office changes temperatures every hour, so you can guess that now everyone knows about my menopause!  Even though I’ve been able to wrangle in my temper, nobody really wants to deal with me anymore.  I’ve tried to mend bridges, but it’s been harder than I thought it would be.” 

Think of your Pauline.  Is she suffering from a fear of appearing weak?

Share on Facebook #3 Youth Obsessed Culture
In addition to disbelief and appearing weak, the third concept of denial is the motive of a youth obsessed culture.  In today’s society, it would appear that youth has become the ultimate paradigm of beauty.  Youth, or at least the appearance of youth, ultimately denotes eternity and the delay of death.  More and more, younger actresses are billed as sex interests, and any woman over 35 is the “hot older woman.” 

Instead of recognizing beauty for beauty, many women believe that if they look old, or admit to themselves that they are indeed aging, they lose their beauty.  In order to maintain a semblance of youth, and thus a semblance of beauty, menopausal clients will use denial as a means to preserve the last shred of what they perceive to be their youth.  Katharine, age 49, clung to the belief that she, too, was not old enough to have started menopause. 

Even after I gave her information packets on menopause itself, Katharine stated, “I don’t need these things.  I’m just a young woman still!  I go out to bars and wear mini skirts!  I just don’t want to act my age!”  Katharine had fallen into the trap of putting on a façade of youth rather than accepting her age for what it is.  Think of your Katharine.  Is she stuck in a desire to appear eternally youthful?

Share on Facebook Technique:  Age Acceptance 
To help clients like Pauline and Katharine accept their menopausal changes, I suggested they try an “Age Acceptance” exercise.  I ask that they write down all the experiences they have had in their life that they would categorize as positive.  Also, I asked them to write out a list of non-physical characteristics that they could draw on when they began to feel a loss of self-esteem.  For her lifetime experiences, Katharine wrote, “The birth of my children, the marriage to my husband.” 

For her characteristics, Katharine wrote, “Loving mother; attentive wife; kind person; helpfulness.”  I then asked Katharine if she believed that any twenty-year olds could really match her list.  Katharine stated, “Hell no!  No twenty-year old could ever raise my kids like me!”  Because she found something other than youth and beauty to derive her self-esteem and confidence from, Katharine could begin to accept herself for her age and not for her appearance. 

Think of your menopausal clients.  Would they benefit from “Age Acceptance” by listing non-physical characteristics that they could draw on when they began to feel a loss of self-esteem?

On this track, we discussed three motives for and manifestations of denial in women who are beginning menopause.  These three denial motives and manifestations included:  disbelief; appearing weak; and youth obsessed culture.

On the next track, we will examine three concepts of malaise in menopausal women.  These three concepts of malaise in menopausal women include:  malaise vs. depression; transitory grief; and comorbid risks.

Online Continuing Education QUESTION 1
What are three motives for and manifestations of denial in women who are beginning menopause? To select and enter your answer go to CEU Answer Booklet.

 
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