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Discussion Questions Why does our society put so much emphasis on our reproductive years, while information about our post reproductive years goes unheard and undiscovered Why is there such a negative outlook on the aging process?
General Definitions Perimenopause- one-to-ten year stretch which the ovaries function erratically and hormonal fluctuations effect many changes within the body. Menopause- marked by final period, ovaries settle down, estrogen and progesterone decline to low steady levels Postmenopause- the years after a women goes through menopause and can no longer reproduce. The average women spends one third of her life within the stage of postmenopause.
Perimenopause Happens between the ages of thirty and sixty The time which you go through menopause may be predicted by the time your mother went through “the change” Nine common changes; Heavy/longer flows, Shorter menstrual cycles, Sore/swollen breasts, New midsleep wakening, Increased cramps, Night sweats, Migraines, Increased mood swings, Weight gain without changes in exercise or eating Gaps or lower ability to concentrate
Myth Once your periods become irregular you cannot become pregnant. This is indeed false and this myth is responsible for many unplanned pregnancies. Women should use birth control up to a year after there last period, some experts say even two to three years after.
Postmenopause “No more bloating, sore breast, menstrual migraines, back pain, greasy hair, and zits. I now realize I felt like I had been pregnant for thirty-five years!” Many women feel a sense of relief and seek more self directed activities. Western cultures outlook on youth and beauty can lead to sexism and ageism. This can make the transition to postmenopause difficult. This may lead women to for more extreme solutions to resist the ageing process
Hormone Therapy Many hormone treatments have not been tested for long term effects and can have detrimental effects Some hormones treatments are not regulated by the FDA Menopause is not a disease and our society puts a negative spin on the ageing process If you are considering hormone therapy consult with your doctor and look at the latest research, but above all, you should do what works for you
Later Years Ageism is a negative outlook of older individuals and the U.S. actively engages in ageism Our society needs more older role models and needs to be educated about the aging process because all of us (“is we are lucky”), will get old. The new average life expectancy went from 48 to 80 within the time span of 1900 to 2007.
Relationships The family dynamic changes- our place in the generational hierarchy changes as we become grandparents. Social connections have a positive effect on our health In our later years we are more likely to experience the loss of a loved one. On average 42% of women over the age of 65 are widowed
Preventative Measures Many diseases are preventable by acquiring healthy habits such as; Eating healthful foods, Exercising, Regular check ups, Engaging your mind, Reducing or quitting smoking, and balanced meals. Some obstacles to some of these preventative measures include; Financial opportunity and years of exposure to occupational health hazards
Myth Sexual desire and activity fade as a natural, irreversible part of ageing. This is false, our society views older women as “dried up”. Sexuality can continue through the lifespan. “Sexual feelings often depend more on how we feel about out bodies and our relationships than our age.”
Health Care Overtreatment and under treatment continue to be problems within the U.S. health care system Rates of longevity are inconsistent across racial and ethnic groups, and income level. Health care providers may prescribe wrong treatments for misdiagnosed health problems Many medications can have adverse effects such as; increased confusion, and depression Medicare only covers short term at-home or nursing home care, long term care is paid out of pocket
Planning Ahead Many aspects of our lives need to be planned for especially living arrangements and health care so that you may age according to your values. Other things to plan for; retirement, meaningful relationships, finances, and community Caregiver and long term care planning, Medicare covers only short term after hospital visits.
Legal Decisions A durable power of attorney-gives someone you trust power to make legal and financial matters is you are unable to yourself A health care proxy- gives someone you trust power to make medical testing and treatment for you. Speak to this person about your values and wishes A living will- describes healthcare treatment you wish to refuse of receive. May also include advance directive and DNR documents
End of Life Care Medical science can shape how we feel about death and dying, rather that quality of life DNR’s can be ignored and patients given life prolonging treatments Palliative or comfort care, reduce and soothe symptoms of disease while keeping your dignity Many women assume the job of caregiving for aging parents or spouse.