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Women with EOAD loss of romance and Appearance Concerns
alz+
Posted: Friday, September 26, 2014 10:57 PM
Joined: 9/12/2013
Posts: 3608


On another topic we began to discuss dressing better and the importance to women of looking good, what ever that is to us as individuals.

 

For many women there is an automatic mood improvement when we look "good".

We live in a culture of various treatments and plastic surgery to "prevent the appearance of aging".

  Our culture does not value a woman as a wise elder.

When women age there is a fear of not being loved anymore. When we lose the look of youth and health we lose the joy of romance and intimacy. Being touched is no small thing.

 

I have been shaken by the change in my appearance since I developed EOAD.

 

Just keeping my clothes clean, tags in, the 'sturdy shoes" and now excess weight have made looking in a mirror a time to cry. I know this illness has changed the way my husband feels about me as a WOMAN and WIFE. He is affectionate but it is so different. I am losing my ability to start and complete simple tasks, losing words, losing friends and losing my sexuality. I never expected to make love again once I got the diagnosis and not because I did not want to. My category changed.

 

I expected to grow into an interesting Old Woman. Have that look of gray hair in a bun, fit, strong, graceful and funny. Not frumpy. Not with the 2 inch hair cut, elastic waist pants and velcro shoes at 55. Not even at 60. Now I am 65 and more than half way through my ALZ Experience and am losing my sense of what is female.

 

In some ways I think this is vanity, pride, nonsense to care about how I look but I am aware that this makes a huge difference in how I am treated in the world. And I do want to look WOMANLY because it is part of my identity that is slipping away from my control.

 

If you have advice or want to comment on being a woman, and what it means as a woman to live with ALZ please share.


Iris L.
Posted: Saturday, September 27, 2014 3:35 PM
Joined: 12/15/2011
Posts: 18346


Alz+, I don't think your concerns are without merit.  When I was in a deep depression, I heard somewhere that 80% of feeling good is looking good.  So I have made it a priority to look good.  It's hard, because what used to be effortless in earlier years takes effort now, when I don't have the energy or the interest to make the effort.  But I will do it, because it is important, for my own personal good mood, and to enable other people to treat me well. 

 

As far as the "two inch hair cut, elastic waist pants, and velcro shoes," who says these can't be stylish?  I watch the advertising circulars in the newspaper and magazines ads for what women my age are wearing.  What you are describing is an athletic look, which is always stylish, even if one is not an athlete. 

I have read recently that jeans are now the second most popular pants after yoga pants.  I only recently began wearing jeans, but now they are mostly all I wear.  I'm not giving them up!  Jeans and a tee shirt or other type of shirt are a great look.  A classic American look.  I only wear athletic shoes, aka walking shoes, or sneakers as we used to call them, because I need the arch support.  I have only one pair of regular black flats that I wear to doctors' appointments.  I gave up heels years ago.

I'm aiming for a casual look.  This is not difficult because I live in southern CA, where the casual look is popular.  I admit I have been frumpy, when I didn't feel well.  I am trying to prepare myself so I don't go back into frumpy again.

The other thing I wanted to mention that can be a sore topic is weight.  Extra weight does not help our appearance.  I was average weight for most of my young adult life, with a big blip of overweight.  I'm now down about 30 pounds from my latest highest, and it really makes a difference in my appearance.  I also can walk at a brisker pace, which is also more youthful and less painful on my knees and back. 

When we are overweight, we don't want anyone to make comments about it.  But losing weight will go a long way towards making us feel better.  Not just in terms of looks, but in terms of functioning.
 

 

I think when a person has an invisible disability, such as we do, we need to take steps to keep ourselves functioning as well as we can, for as long as we can.  There is so much stigma attached to cognitive disorders that we don't need a bad appearance to keep people from approaching and interacting with us. 

 

This is a good topic.  It's good to think about this.

Iris L.
 


Lisa428
Posted: Sunday, September 28, 2014 4:03 PM
Joined: 12/5/2011
Posts: 795


Hi,

I agree that when I look better, I feel better.

 

That's part of the reason that I follow "Best Practices."  Eating a healthy diet, exercising my body and my brain regularly, being social are all parts of best  practices.

 

No, it's not a cure but it sure does help.  Plus, trying to remain positive about my life and things in it also helps.

 

Yes, I still have emotions Fear, anxiety, anger but also happiness, contentment and being happy with my granddaughter.

 

Alzheimer's is definitely like a roller coaster - up and down, fast and slow, turns curves and not knowing what lies ahead.  We can do this together and with our families and friends.

 

Good Luck to All,

 

Peace and Hope,

Lisa


llee08032
Posted: Tuesday, September 30, 2014 7:29 AM
Joined: 5/20/2014
Posts: 4408


We live in a culture of various treatments and plastic surgery to "prevent the appearance of aging". 

  Our culture does not value a woman as a wise elder.
 

When women age there is a fear of not being loved anymore. When we lose the look of youth and health we lose the joy of romance and intimacy. Being touched is no small thing. 

 

So true...

 

What happened to the concept of women growing old gracefully? When a make over was some lipstick and a blue rinse on silver hair? Now we have the added pressure of 50 is the new 30 and 60 is the new 40 and so on...


Iris L.
Posted: Tuesday, September 30, 2014 11:45 AM
Joined: 12/15/2011
Posts: 18346


Can women grow old gracefully and still look good?  I suppose it depends upon the definition of looking good.  What used to be looking good, i.e., a blue rinse on silver hair, is no longer considered good.  But what about elastic waist pants? 

 

I had not commented upon the romance aspect of this thread because I am not in a romantic relationship.  But I gather that the impression is that a person must be youthful and attractive to be romantic.  I think this might be true for one segment of the population, but for others, people are searching for different values.  I know that people are searching for acceptance and caring and interest.  Can we, as people with cognitive impairment or dementia, provide those qualities?

People on the Spouse/Partner board always complain that their LOs complain, argue, insult them, and don't show appreciation.  These are part of the reason for lowering of romance, they say.  Perhaps some attention needs to be focused in these areas?  I can't say, because I am not in a relationship.
 

 

The article I posted on another thread about Memory Bridge spoke about having dementia as becoming more isolated.  This thread is further evidence of personal isolation--isolation from intimacy.

What to do about it?  I don't know yet.  I'm still figuring this out.

Iris L.
 


llee08032
Posted: Wednesday, October 1, 2014 7:32 AM
Joined: 5/20/2014
Posts: 4408


I like the concept of growing old gracefully and I do think one could look good. It's a matter of cleanliness, neatness a few nice accents (jewelry) here and there, good shoes, nice purse; sophistication vs garish. A nice top that sits below the waist can hide those elastic waist pants. Makeup not overdone. Clothing not too tight, short, plunging, teeny bopper looking etc. Of course good posture and holding your head up conveys confidence as well as, enhances appearance. Moreover, I think we should allow ourselves those frumpy days when were not up to the aforementioned! Maybe even have a frumpy, comfy stash of clothes, an easy way to do our hair and a little rescue makeup (foundation to brighten complexion) add a nice pair of sunglasses and your good to go as is.
alz+
Posted: Wednesday, October 1, 2014 7:39 AM
Joined: 9/12/2013
Posts: 3608


( I wrote the following this morning and then realized this topic is about MOURNING the loss of the woman I used to be.)

 '''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''

 We all know what it is like to be evaluated. And women are evaluated on how they look in our culture. Watching movies from 1940's show women aging gracefully - meaning not trying to compete with 20 year olds, being respected, having dignity. I love those women!

 

To be cut off from intimacy because we are now labeled with dementia is not a universal fact, but speaking from my own little world it is incredibly painful.

 

It is also painful to read about the men with dementia who want to remain sexual (as part of being a man, for comfort, for reassurance, to relive anxiety) and the women or partners who reject that. Our sexuality is not just looks, it is part of our identity and having our sexual needs rejected because we have dementia is an awfully confounding  experience.

 

Remembering that comfort, that relaxed all is right with the world feeling after making love,  and knowing never again makes me feel like crawling in a hole and pulling the earth over me. Then I tell myself a bunch of stuff like "oh, it doesn't matter" and try to forget about it.

 

The belief I am becoming useless and unwanted is not new to me, but takes on another shade when it is because of a diagnosis regarding my brain mind. My body is still alive!

 

Iris I lived alone most of my adult life, raised my children with shared parenting and then started a new career as a massage therapist. I heard thousands of stories about wives and husbands and irritation. I was always grateful when I went home to a house full of dogs and not a marriage. In that life I did not feel lonely. It is being in a relationship and having that person reject me that made me feel utterly alone, in a painful way. Utterly alone when single alone was sort of paradise.

 

I'm trying to keep this relevant to dementia. We are humans with human needs and desires. Since frustration can set off anger and meltdowns in dementia I bring up sexual frustration and rejection as a trigger for so called "bad behavior". Remember the long topic on dating because a spouse has dementia? Holy cow!

 

To be held and consoled, to be complimented, to feel wanted - maybe that is why my closet does not give up the pretty things.

 

regarding ELASTIC WAIST PANTS: Ha! in order to not wet myself I have to wear them or a skirt because there are not enough seconds to undo a zipper or jean buttons! But there is a difference now between the frumpy ones and new wide flat elastic knit pants which are modern and comfortable and look good.

 

I am not an enemy of elastic, just not those ill fitting ones made with stiff fabric. I bought myself 2 pair of HUE knit pants and put one pair...some place odd and am still looking for them. I thought the losing thing phase had passed through but now I lost my cool Moto styled knit pants with wide elastic top! NO! They held in my belly and were easy off but then they were not so good for disguising incontinence pads! Ha!

 

 


 

 


Iris L.
Posted: Wednesday, October 1, 2014 2:02 PM
Joined: 12/15/2011
Posts: 18346


Re: leaking.  I, along with many women, have that issue.  I discovered that when I reached below a certain weight, which in my case was 190 lbs, the urgency became less of a problem.  I could stay dry until I got to a toilet.  The added pressure from belly fat made the leakage worse.   

 

The other thing that helps me is fluid restriction.  If I have to be away from easily reached toilets, I don't drink extra fluid.  Normally I drink a LOT of water.  I don't drink sodas, and drink juice very rarely, I find that weight loss and paying attention to my fluid intake make this issue manageable. 

 

 

 

Regarding intimacy.  Before my ex-husband passed away, he had talked about us getting married again.  I was reluctant.  Part of my reluctance was due to the discussions about the presumptive dissolution of relationships when one partner has a serious memory issue.  My memory loss was a major reason of why we broke up in the first place.  Why go back into that? 

I read the Spouse/Partner board discussions.  All of them have difficulties accepting the changes in their relationships, but at least they are finally aware that the changes are due to a disease.  My ex-husband was not aware that I now have a cognitive diagnosis and am on medication, because I had not told him.  I was afraid to tell him. 
 

 

For a current marriage, the only thing I know that might make this better is communication--communication--communcation.  In previous discussions you talked about your anger.  I think that has a lot to do with the diminution of intimacy in a marriage.  Possibly attention directed in addressing that area might help. 

I don't think the loss if intimacy is related to aging bodies, because both male and female bodies age.  Studies show that older adults are still interested in intimacy, if intimacy is available to them.  If you watch the 60 Minutes segment on the people in their 90s, they interviewed a 90 yo couple who appeared like teenagers in their interest in intimacy.
 

 

I think there is reason for hope, Alz+.  This is not over for you yet.

Iris L.
 

 

 

 


llee08032
Posted: Thursday, October 2, 2014 7:31 AM
Joined: 5/20/2014
Posts: 4408


( I wrote the following this morning and then realized this topic is about MOURNING the loss of the woman I used to be.)


It is a mourning for the loss of oneself...I think this is the most natural and normal response that anyone could have under such circumstances. Surely it is more difficult for women who have always been judged and valued on sexuality and appearance.


It's sad to watch women awkwardly responding to that how old are you ?question. Some lie, some squirm and you can see the shame sometimes, the fear almost read the thoughts; will I be thought of as less, discounted or judged? I'm ashamed to admit that I have lied about my age in the past. Consequently, perpetuating all the bull crap about any woman being less of a person old or young who does not fit the societal standard of beauty. I do believe that women dress for other women and that some women are the harshest critics of other women relative to appearance. I feel that older women are discounted by some of the younger women. Sometimes I feel invisible when out and about in the world! Gloria S. where are you?


How old am I? I'm 59 and it's okay that I look 59. I like that my eyebrows move with my feelings, that I can still wear my heart on my sleeve and that my smile is not frozen. See these laugh lines with their own story and history of life's blessings and joy! Yes, I've put on some weight but when I was your age I was much thinner than you are now...


Lonestray
Posted: Thursday, October 2, 2014 8:38 AM
Joined: 8/12/2013
Posts: 158


 

One of the great advantages of not having had a conventional upbringing, is that my life has been enriched by looking past a person's exterior appearance.

 

 When I visited my late wife for the period while she was in a Nursing Home, there were many elderly lady residents. To listen to them speak of times past was to enter up a gold mine of adventures. It was easy to imagine them as young girls once I looked past the wear and tear of time. There was a beauty to behold. So many sad and happy real life experiences to soak up.

 The best books that make an impact are the ones that are are well worn and 'dog eared'. The stories outlive the writers.

Sadly our society do lose out by judging the book by the cover. See I don't fit in.


Rosebud1958
Posted: Thursday, October 2, 2014 11:36 AM
Joined: 10/2/2014
Posts: 1


The sad reality for me is that I don't even resemble myself from 10 years ago. My facial features have changed, My ambulation is slow and unbalanced. I wear elastic waist pants for ease of removing and comfort. I've had to give away my beautiful shoes with heels so that I can continue to walk.  Even when I put my make up on,fix my hair and put on dressy clothes I will not look like I did before this disease !

As the disease progresses I believe we have to go through the difficult process of accepting what we have lost. I can not discuss relationships as I am divorced and have no desire to complicate my ever changing world !

 


alz+
Posted: Thursday, October 2, 2014 12:27 PM
Joined: 9/12/2013
Posts: 3608


Lonestray: 

 Oh you fit in, there just are not that many of you at the Top.

  

  You were an exceptional husband and are an exceptional man.
 

 

Iris: 

I agree anger is not romantic. PTSD comes out when I feel cornered or at risk and is now slower to pass. I forgive myself the intense reactions to the body MEMORIES I would love to forget. How others deal with it is beyond my control and I have done a life time of work to heal.  

    

  I read this  link about high levels of stress in middle aged women creating a fertile place for early ALZ today:  

  

http://www.alzheimersreadingroom.com/2014/10/worry-jealousy-moodiness-linked-to.html   


 

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ 

"Worry, jealousy, moodiness linked to higher risk of Alzheimer's in women 


The Gist

  • For the study, 800 women with an average age of 46 were followed for 38 years and given personality tests that looked at their level of neuroticism and extraversion or introversion, along with memory tests. Of those, 19 percent developed dementia.
  • Neuroticism involves being easily distressed and personality traits such as worrying, jealousy or moodiness. People who are neurotic are more likely to express anger, guilt, envy, anxiety or depression. Introversion is described as shyness and reserve and extraversion is associated with being outgoing. 
  •   
  •  *( my note: Learned long ago an "Introvert is someone who recharges in solitude, an Extrovert is someone who recharges from being around other people". Not about neurotic.) 
  • The women were also asked if they had experienced any period of stress that lasted one month or longer in their work, health, or family situation.  
  • Stress referred to feelings of irritability, tension, nervousness, fear, anxiety or sleep disturbances.  
  • Responses were categorized as zero to five, with zero representing never experiencing any period of stress, to five, experiencing constant stress during the last five years.  
  • Women who chose responses from 3 and 5 were considered to have distress." 
  • .........................................................................................
  •  
  •   what I am taking away from the discussion so far is it is not signs of aging or my lack of ability to dress better now but more the skills it took to help me survive a life of wounds from violence against females, with no justice, are not a pretty deficit in a woman.  
  •  Having survived those traumas gave me great compassion though and drove me to write but I can't expect any one to find the legacy of those wounds attractive.
     

Being comforted takes many forms, as llee wrote, there is comfort in  mourning of what is gone, and what will never come, in the presence of supportive and kind spirits.  

   To love and be loved in return...who knows what that might look like?
 


Iris L.
Posted: Thursday, October 2, 2014 6:48 PM
Joined: 12/15/2011
Posts: 18346


The causes of dementia are still unknown.  Personally, I believe it has something to do with inflammation.

I developed this condition but I don't have a history of violence toward women.  On the contrary, my life was pretty exceptional, although hard-working, until I developed this disorder.  Then my world came crashing down on me.
 


 

I believe everyone must figure out what their disease means for them, and what they must do to live in their new life.  It won't be easy.  But it can be done.

Fortunately, we have each other on this board to help us walk this path.  The outside world is CLUELESS to help us.

Iris L.


 


Myriam
Posted: Friday, October 3, 2014 10:20 AM
Joined: 12/6/2011
Posts: 3326


If I think about it, there is a lot I miss. I used to be beautiful, though I didn't know it. All I knew was that men chased me and a few caught me. Even with that, I was incredibly insecure and suffered from severe depression. It wasn't until menopause that men began to look away, but with that I began to feel great freedom to do and be as I pleased. I am happier now than ever, even with Alzheimer's, an aching body, wrinkles, a little belly fat, salt and pepper hair, and a steep drop in my income. Life is good...but it would be nice to feel the arms of a man whom I like/love around me.
alz+
Posted: Friday, October 3, 2014 10:40 AM
Joined: 9/12/2013
Posts: 3608


Now that a few days have passed and my husband cuddled me and rubbed my back last night I am feeling the mourning emotions leave today.

 

I am incredibly lucky in so many ways.

 

Loved what Myriam wrote about the fun of being beautiful and wanted and the fun of being over 50 and free of the need for that. I know there are romances in nursing homes and assisted living places. My uncle lost his wife to ALS 20 years ago and is on relationship #3 in his assisted living place. He just turned 96.

 

Guess fishing is better at some parts of lake than others.

 

NOTE: I go through stages of emotion and write about them, always surprised and happy at how the support here helps move me back to center.

 

Really fine people here. I appreciate every one of you.


Iris L.
Posted: Friday, October 3, 2014 1:30 PM
Joined: 12/15/2011
Posts: 18346


The spouses and partners have their own board.  Perhaps there should be a specific board for solo patients.

Iris L.

BBunny
Posted: Friday, October 3, 2014 11:09 PM
Joined: 5/28/2014
Posts: 458


 Iris, You might just be on to something there!  It could work!  But then you would leave us..to fly solo......so ...maybe not!  

 Alz+, I felt a pang of sadness when you wrote about not feeling loved.  The most basic of needs.  We need love to survive.

 Nothing stings more than rejection.  I know. We all have our low points, and feel alone in this difficult world,  but I hope you always know, deep in your heart, that you are absolutely loved.  Your husband, Mr. Great Backrubber, loves you dearly, and I remember a hug from a son lately, but don't forget all your friends here, Iris and me and Ilee and w/e and so many.  You share your heart with us, and we share ours.  Is that not love?

Oh yes, Ms. Alz+, you are greatly loved.  You are wise, and wonderful, and beautiful.


Iris L.
Posted: Saturday, October 4, 2014 2:01 AM
Joined: 12/15/2011
Posts: 18346


Welcome to our online support group, Rosebud.  I'm sorry you have these diagnoses but I'm glad you found this site.  You will find lots of support here from people like you.  

I'm glad you joined our discussion.  Please post your questions and concerns whenever you want.  We'll be here for you.

Iris L.

llee08032
Posted: Sunday, October 5, 2014 10:00 AM
Joined: 5/20/2014
Posts: 4408


Myriam,


Mimi, commented in a post several weeks ago or last month about what a beautiful woman you are! I believe her. I don't think that true beauty ever really fades. The kind of beauty that radiates outward from within combined with some striking feature such as beautiful eye's or such. Also I think the fact that you were a humble beauty made you all the more beautiful.



alz+ Soak up those cuddles and back rubs! I remember when married or in a relationship just wanting to be held sometimes w/o that having to lead to sex. The wires of gender would get crossed and despite that I made it clear what I needed I do not feel that I was truly understood. Consequently, sometimes I held back on being affectionate.



The spouses and partners have their own board.  Perhaps there should be a specific board for solo patients.


Iris, going solo does have it's own unique set of circumstances some dire in nature and I agree that this is needed. 


llee08032
Posted: Monday, October 6, 2014 7:56 AM
Joined: 5/20/2014
Posts: 4408


I was thinking of some easy ways to look and feel better; perhaps ways to accentuate our best features. What are your best features? I have been told my best features are my eye's and smile. Since my brows (the accents of the eyes) are growing grey and sparse I now tint them about every 4-6 weeks. Also I've been told my smile is my best other feature so I think I should go get my teeth whitened. Perhaps the process of whitening ones teeth or getting new and whiter dentures could make a big difference and make us want to show off those smiles! Everyone is beautiful when they smile!
llee08032
Posted: Monday, October 6, 2014 8:01 AM
Joined: 5/20/2014
Posts: 4408


I forgot to add-perhaps some highlights or low lights here and there on the hair which is not overly dramatic a change. Low lights work well in adding dimension and accentuating the face.while highlights can add the look of sheen and shine to the hair.
alz+
Posted: Monday, October 13, 2014 10:53 AM
Joined: 9/12/2013
Posts: 3608


Llee - my best feature was my sense of humor but I forgot where I put it.

 

I do like my gray hair and wrinkles. I also got a men's flannel shirt last week and remember I look good in 1940's northwoods type clothing.

 

Really miss making people laugh. Used to laugh all day at work! Maybe it is with my lost clothing.

 

love and courage


llee08032
Posted: Thursday, October 16, 2014 7:06 AM
Joined: 5/20/2014
Posts: 4408


alz+,

Llee - my best feature was my sense of humor but I forgot where I put it.

 

I do like my gray hair and wrinkles. I also got a men's flannel shirt last week and remember I look good in 1940's northwoods type clothing.



Any woman who can pull off northwoods clothing has to be beautiful! That sense of humor is there and it may be that which gets you through the quagmire that we are in here.  I detect it in many of your posts! They just don't get you...we get you!


llee08032
Posted: Monday, December 18, 2017 8:13 AM
Joined: 5/20/2014
Posts: 4408


Not the post I was looking for but interesting to read where we were in 2014!

Love to all


alz+
Posted: Monday, December 18, 2017 1:33 PM
Joined: 9/12/2013
Posts: 3608


wow. how fun to think back!
lisabramey
Posted: Monday, December 18, 2017 2:47 PM
Joined: 3/20/2015
Posts: 96


Dear Alz+,

I was diagnosed that year (2014) I still struggle with "appearance apathy".

Lisa


llee08032
Posted: Tuesday, December 19, 2017 6:57 AM
Joined: 5/20/2014
Posts: 4408


Me too Lisa!