Archive for Women’s Stories

What Women Need to Know About Long-Term Care

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The Caregiver Burden Falls on Women

According to a report issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2000) more than 50 million people provide care for a chronically ill, disabled or aged family member or friend during any given year.

Approximately 60 % of family caregivers are women, many of whom are middle-aged, married, employed, and caring for an elderly parent who does not live with her. To avoid jeopardizing their financial future, women should educate themselves about caregiver economics.

Caregiver Economics

Did you know?

On average, women can expect to devote more than 30 hours a week providing “free” care to a loved one. Forced to either withdraw from the workforce or reduce hours, the loss of income can be substantial. In 2000, for example, the typical working family full time caregiver lost $109 per day in wages and health benefits.

An ill spouse, who needs costly medical care, can quickly deplete family assets, leaving no money for his surviving spouse to afford care for herself.

According to the Wiser Report, there are no public or private retirement programs that “grant credit” for care giving when calculating retirement benefits.

Medicare will not pay for extended long-term care services and provides only limited assistance when a person is recovering from an illness. Typically Medicare kicks in after a minimum of a three day stay in a hospital.

Medicaid provides for care, but only after most of a person’s assets are spent down, the care is up to the government’s discretion and is limited to a nursing home.

Tips Selecting Long-Term Insurance

  • Choose a company with an excellent rating.
  • Choose an agent who is knowledgeable and best represents your situation.
  • Choose a plan which provides the options of care at home, in an assisted living facility, an adult day care center, or a nursing facility.
  • Make sure to choose inflation protection which increases your daily benefit amount each year by 5% compound or 5% simple, depending on your age at the time of purchase.
  • Involve your children in the process, for they will ultimately be emotionally and financially affected by it.

With more families today depending on two-incomes, many women cannot afford to reduce their earnings to stay home to care for a chronically ill spouse or parent. It is prudent to at least explore the cost/benefits of long-term care insurance while they are young enough to be insurable since women will not only be the caregivers but also the recipients of care in their lifetime.

Sources: Judith Blaustein, CLTC, Stucki, B.R. and Mulvey, J., “Can Aging Baby Boomers Avoid the Nursing Home? Long-term Care Insurance for Aging in Place.” American Council of Life Insurers, March 2000; National Caregivers Association

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Your Stories

The (wo)menopause

By Rita – written in a moment of ‘menopausal madness’

There is a thing called the menopause,
For many of our problems it is the cause.
Why it is named after ‘men’ I’ll never know,
They’ve certainly got nothing to show for it.

Suddenly on your chin a couple of hairs,
Now those I reckon should have been theirs.
Your spreading hips, they give you the pips,
And the red hot f lushes, where the sweat actually gushes.

Your skin it sags, boy what a drag,
Then to your dismay, the hair turns grey.
You look in the mirror, don’t like what you see,
Lines around the eyes…is it really me?,

You just don’t feel quite as you should,
Of course you’d change it…if only you could.
But there is no need to worry, it’s only a guise,
At the end of it all there’s a lovely surprise.

You will wake one morning and find a new you,
There will be a feeling, ‘I’ve made it through’.
Having attained a confidence you have had before,
You are about to open a new door.

Yes, there is still so, so much more of life to be had,
You know, (wo)menopause, really, wasn’t that bad!

 

Please note: stories are of a personal nature written by individuals experiencing menopasue and with their express permission. The Foundation takes no responsibility for the accuracy of the content, or any of the actions, experiences or concepts described by the writer; nor does it necessarily endorse or recommend any of the treatments, products or services that may be referred to. If you are concerned about your health in any way it is advisable that you speak to a health practitioner.

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Support

Support Stories

Women often find that having a number of support options is the best way to get the support they need. This may include having a good health care practitioner (either a medical practitioner and/or a practitioner of complementary medicine), friends and other women going through similar things.

Not everyone you speak to will necessarily provide the support you want. It is important to remember you have the right to receive it and if your first attempt at getting support is not right for you – keep searching until you find what you are looking for.

“I think it is important to not see menopause as a medical disease.
It is a normal life experience. Sometimes the way it is talked about it seems that it we are moving from the “normal” life into the “abnormal after-life”. That is not true.

We have to breakdown the stereotypes of menopause and view it outside of the box of “signs and symptoms”. It is a normal part of a normal life.
We have to recognise that it is a transitional stage. We may have difficulties while we are in this transition and we may need help so that we can feel not alone and confident in our futures.”

“I go to two doctors, one who knows my medical history and is good for certain diseases and operations etc; more clinical care. I go to the other doctor for women’s health and mental health.”

“My partner thinks the solution is easy. He thinks I should just go on HRT. I have been involved in a “Healthy Living Women’s Group” and that has been fantastic. We have been able to discuss openly our feelings within the group”

“I was very fortunate when I came into menopause. I was studying a Psychotherapy course and as part of the course you had to undertake your own therapy. That really helped me to feel OK in myself.

“Through that course I found a woman friend who is a similar age and having similar experiences. I feel that women must find someone with whom they can share these things with.”

“I found that even though I would ask if my signs and symptoms could be related to menopause none of my health care providers (medical and alternative) would even talk about it with me. I thought that was funny because I was 45 years old. They thought I was another crazy woman because menopause starts in your 50’s.

Then a friend said to me “You know these things you are talking about – feeling very emotionally unstable, foggy headed – these things can be symptoms of menopause.

I felt such a relief. Initially I found that lots of my women friends didn’t actually want to acknowledge what was happening to me. If it was happening to me then perhaps it was about to happen to them. I have continued to talk about it and have been able to get some help from my Chinese Medical Practitioner.

Now I am finding that my friends are all starting to talk about the changes they are experiencing. It’s great because I thought I was going crazy and I felt so alone.”

“I started talking about menopause at work the other day and some of the other women, about my age, said “Hey don’t put us in THAT category” as if it is a bad thing to be there.”

“I have been having chemotherapy for breast cancer. As a consequence I have gone through menopause. I wanted to talk with my cancer doctor about it. I wanted to know what he thought, I didn’t want to be sent somewhere else to deal with “that part of me”.

“The thing that was the most un-supportive part of my whole experience was having my doctor tell me “You’re alright there is nothing to worry about. I didn’t feel all-right and that was worrying me.”

“The thing that hindered me the most when I was trying to work out what to do was my GP’s attitude towards women and menopause in general and the controversy over HRT”

Please note: these stories are of a personal nature written by individuals experiencing menopasue and with their express permission. The Foundation takes no responsibility for the accuracy of the content, or any of the actions, experiences or concepts described by the writer; nor does it necessarily endorse or recommend any of the treatments, products or services that may be referred to. If you are concerned about your health in any way it is advisable that you speak to a health practitioner.

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Impact of Menopause

Impact of Change Stories

For some women hormonal changes and/or the related emotional changes of the transition affected their intimate relationships and sex life.

“I found my sex life just disappeared. I wasn’t interested in sex anymore. If he approached me I would have a hot flush that was most unpleasant so I would push him away, of course this led to marital problems. More recently I have come out of this change and since then we have been able to get back to a good sexual relationship. The issues we faced in that time were very difficult for me but I have learnt a lot from it and it has been a very positive experience over all.”

“I miss the feeling of wanting sex and that, for me, is one of the most significant changes of this time.”

“I was very dry, and found sex uncomfortable. When I asked my GP for help he said “you don’t need it anymore” but I still did need it. A friend told me about KY jelly and that has made a difference for us”

“The sleeplessness that I experienced interfered with my husbands sleep also.”

“My menopause was premature through surgery. I really struggled with it at first. I was 31 years old and I thought that I was going to be a lesser woman to society and to my partner. I saw both a sex counsellor and a marriage counsellor. In the end it was my own acceptance of what had happened that pulled me through. I realised that this was not the end of my life. It is how I think about myself that matters.”
Family and Friends

Family life and friendships can be affected in some unexpected ways.

“I would sometimes feel that I could kill anyone in the family on certain days, no-one was safe, they all gave me the shits.”

“I have always been a listener but I find that now I don’t want to do it anymore. I don’t feel myself to be nurtured in my relationships and I want to feel nurtured myself now.”

“It doesn’t feel like a safe time for me with friends. I am afraid of going blank and forgetting what we are talking about, so I find myself observing life not participating in it.”

Self-identity was another thing that changed for women as they passed through the “menopausal years”.

“I used to think of myself as a confident and passionate person and as a competent worker. Recently I have found myself just going blank mid-sentence, I completely forget what I was talking about. My language skills have dropped off so rather than risking feeling inadequate I just don’t do things”

“I looked at myself in the mirror. My skin pores were larger and I looked somehow more masculine. My skin had become looser. But I felt the same on the inside.”

“I get a shock when I see myself in the mirror because it is not how I imagine myself. I look in the mirror and I think “Oh my god I’m my mother”

“I still find myself choosing the size 10 clothes of the rack and I am definitely no longer a size 10 but I still feel like the same me!!!”

“I went through menopause prematurely, so it happened 15 years ago. It is only now that I feel that I am ageing. Menopause didn’t relate to ageing for me in the same way that it does for women who go through menopause in their middle life.

“I’m in the middle of menopause, my periods have stopped and I haven’t felt that feeling of wellbeing, that joy and excitement in the world since. It’s a confidence thing. I hope this is not it”
Identity

Women will sometimes feel that their “social identity” has also changed.

“Men stopped noticing me. But I found it very liberating I could do something and be who I wanted and not be noticed for it. I am more focused on me now. My menopause was related to the chemotherapy I had for breast cancer. The cancer may be a part of the change, but I feel this is my process I’m going through, this is about MY life.”

“I feel invisible both sexually and socially and this gets up my nose. I think this is our culture’s attachment to youth. I like my soul to show on my face.

“Since I turned 50 there have been a few changes in my house. I had become invisible to my husband. I thought menopause makes me invisible in society at least I should be visible in my marriage. So I moved out of the matrimonial bed. I am more like a mistress now. We have great sex when I am romanced. I don’t look after him anymore. I cook for him if I am cooking for myself. I don’t assume the same things about me or him.”

Recreation

Women have found that while they are in the menopausal transition that their recreational activities have been affected.

“It made it harder to enjoy sport when I was having hot flushes all the time.”

“My level of activity revolved around how much sleep I’d had. I was previously very active but the sleep disruption has really affected me.”

“I have osteoporosis now and so physically menopause is really affecting my life as I have had to give up two things I really love, skiing and horse-riding.”

“I find that I am so much less supple, I find it hard to get up off the floor. It is hard to do the same exercise. Over the last 6 months I have worked through an overwhelming feeling of being really old but I know now that I can get fitter.”

“I feel that my strength has changed I have to ask people to help me. I feel brittle.”

Please note: these stories are of a personal nature written by individuals experiencing menopasue and with their express permission. The Foundation takes no responsibility for the accuracy of the content, or any of the actions, experiences or concepts described by the writer; nor does it necessarily endorse or recommend any of the treatments, products or services that may be referred to. If you are concerned about your health in any way it is advisable that you speak to a health practitioner.

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Signs and Symptoms Stories

For many women the signs and symptoms that signify the beginning of the midlife transition may begin 4 or even 5 years prior to menopause (which is defined as the cessation of menstruation for 12 months). This period of life is called “Peri-menopause”.

During this time there may be a whole range of physical, emotional and psychological changes that affect a woman’s life both in her private and her public roles. It is often at this time that women feel confused about what is happening to them. Sometimes, it is only in retrospect, either post-menopause or at the start of a well known sign eg; hot flushes or missed period, that women may begin to consider the reason for these changes.

” I was confused about what was going on. There were all sorts of changes in my relationship but I couldn’t tell if the problem was “mine” or “ours”.

“I noticed my behaviour changing but I didn’t know why. Naming it as the beginning of menopause really helped me feel that I had some control back”.

“Often when women present with a symptom picture made up of a number of peri-menopausal or menopausal symptoms, health care professionals may not attribute these changes to this life stage transition.”

“I am in my mid 40’s. My periods had become irregular for 4 or 5 months and I was suffering from quite severe depression. I went to my doctor and asked could it be menopause. He said, ” You just need more exercise”. I went through a period of great uncertainty not knowing if I was falling apart.”
Transition Experiences

For other women the transition through to menopause is less confusing.

“I hit 50 and for the next 18 months my periods became lighter and lighter. It happened just like the text book and therefore I was expecting it and knew what was happening.”

While some women are able to easily recognise that they have entered the menopausal transition, the physical symptoms still cause them discomfort.

“I found the hot flushes the hardest thing to deal with. I would be looking around to see if anyone else was hot and then realise it was just me. Then I would try and act as if everything was normal.”

“I found at work, under pressure, the hot flushes would come on.”

“The sleeplessness was a difficult thing to deal with. I found it set up an expectation of not being able to sleep and I ended up feeling utterly tired all the time.”

“I would wake in the middle of the night. I would find this time my blackest time. I would feel really alone”
Surgical Menopause

Other women come to menopause prematurely because of surgery.

“The Doctor had told me what to expect in regards to signs and symptoms. But I still felt total confusion, loneliness and depression. None of my friends wanted to really talk about it and they couldn’t really understand because they weren’t going through it.

Premature menopause was more than just a set of signs and symptoms. It really affected the way I thought about myself as a woman in society.

Over the years I have learnt acceptance and learnt that I can feel like a woman again.”

Please note: these stories are of a personal nature written by individuals experiencing menopasue and with their express permission. The Foundation takes no responsibility for the accuracy of the content, or any of the actions, experiences or concepts described by the writer; nor does it necessarily endorse or recommend any of the treatments, products or services that may be referred to. If you are concerned about your health in any way it is advisable that you speak to a health practitioner.

 

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Women’s Stories

Women from all walks of life, who may have, on occasion, extraordinary health needs.

Being able to share life experiences can make those extraordinary needs seem a little less daunting. The Foundation is proud to share stories from our community of women who have the courage to reveal their innermost thoughts on menopause.

Signs & Symptoms

Signs and symptoms that signify the beginning of the midlife transition may begin 4 or even 5 years prior to menopause. See stories…

Impact

Related emotional changes of the transition affects relationships and sex life. See stories…

Support

A number of support options is the best way to get the support needed. See stories…

Your stories

From our visitors own experience of menopause. See stories…

Please note: these stories are of a personal nature written by individuals experiencing menopasue and with their express permission. The Foundation takes no responsibility for the accuracy of the content, or any of the actions, experiences or concepts described by the writer; nor does it necessarily endorse or recommend any of the treatments, products or services that may be referred to. If you are concerned about your health in any way it is advisable that you speak to a health practitioner.

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