What factors affect the aging process? Why do some individuals appear to age faster than others?
Working With the Aging: The Case of Francine Francine is a 70-year-old, Irish Catholic female.
She worked for 40 years as a librarian in an institution of higher education and retired at age 65. Francine has lived alone for the past year, after her partner, Joan, died of cancer. Joan and Francine had been together for 30 years, and while Francine personally identifies as a lesbian, she never came out to her family or to her colleagues. When speaking to all but her closest confidantes, Francine referred to Joan as her “best friend” or her “roommate.” Francine’s bereavement was therefore complicated because she did not feel she could discuss the true nature of her partnership with Joan. She felt that there was little recognition from her family, and even some of her close associates, of the impact and meaning of Joan’s death to Francine. There is a history of alcohol abuse in Francine’s family, and Francine abused alcohol from late adolescence into her mid-30s. However, Francine has been in recovery for several decades. Francine has no known sexual abuse history and no criminal history. Francine sought counseling with me for several reasons, including an ongoing depressed mood, a lack of pleasure or enjoyment in her life, and loneliness and isolation since Joan’s death. She also reported that she had begun to drink again and that while her drinking was not yet at the level it had been earlier in her life, she was concerned that she could return to a dependence upon alcohol. Francine came to counseling with several considerable strengths, including a capacity to form intimate relationships, a successful work history, a history of having maintained her sobriety in the past for many years, as well as insight into the factors that had contributed to her current difficulties. During our initial meetings, Francine stated that her goals were to feel less depressed, to reduce or stop drinking, and to feel less isolated. In order to ensure that no medical issues were contributing to her depression symptoms, I referred Francine to her primary care physician for an evaluation. Francine’s physician
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