Sunday, January 15, 2006

denial (withdrawal)

Denial is a defense used by many older people to cope with the aging process. It is an unconscious process in which the person does not admit that a situation exists until the person is able to adjust. Denial is all right in moderation because it allows the person to continue to function and feel useful. Denial becomes negative only when it becomes damaging to the person's health.
Denial can keep a person from accepting reality. In such a situation, people may go to extremes to look younger with wigs, cosmetics, or youthful clothing and refuse to be involved with their peer groups.
Some individuals attempt to maintain control of their lives by avoidance. Sometimes this withdrawal is a way of handling the undesirable effects of the aging process. Isolation becomes the person's protection and keeps him or her secure in his or her own environment.
If denial or withdrawal becomes so extensive that it might jeopardize the older person's health, psychotherapy may be necessary.
Lester, A. D., and Lester, J. L. Understanding Aging Parents. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1980.

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