282 chapter 13: Growing older with a disability
(extreme sadness or feeling nothing at all)
Some people start to feel unhappy and depressed as they grow older. This is often
because of loneliness, changes in health, or not being able to do as much as they
used to. Some women with disabilities who suffer from low self-esteem may feel
even more lonely and depressed as they grow older.
Some of the signs of depression are:
• feeling sad most of the time
• difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
• difficulty thinking clearly
• loss of interest in pleasurable activities, eating, or sex
• physical problems, such as headaches or intestinal problems,
that are not caused by illness
• slow speech and movement
• lack of energy for daily activities
• thinking about death or suicide
What to do to help prevent depression
Try to stay as active as possible, to exercise, and to eat well. Above all, try not to be
alone too much. Help take care of younger children in your community. Meet with
other older women with disabilities to talk and to pass time together. If you are
often feeling sad or are unable to sleep, talk to someone in your family you trust or
with a health worker. For more information about mental health, see Chapter 3.
When monthly bleeding stops (menopause)
Usually monthly bleeding stops gradually over 1 or 2 years, most often between 45
and 55 years old. This happens because your ovaries stop making eggs, and your
body makes less of the hormones estrogen and progesterone. Women with Down
syndrome often stop their monthly bleeding earlier than other women.
• Your monthly bleeding changes and you may bleed more often for a while.
Or you may stop bleeding for a few months and then bleed again.
• At times you may suddenly feel very hot or sweaty (‘hot flashes’).
• Your vagina may become less wet and smaller.
• Your feelings change easily.
These signs will start to go away as your body gets used to less estrogen.
A Health Handbook for Women with Disabilities 2007