In this program, she became a surrogate caregiver for young elementary school students, assisting in their homework and other campus activities. This helped her to achieve a sense of being necessary and to fill her time productively. Her depression lifted. Altschuler (2001) noted that caring for others even as one ages can be a source of positive self-esteem. For this client, reducing depression also may have facilitated a positive relationship with her children, who participated in counseling and were sensitized to the concerns of their mother and grandmother. Involving the client's family was, given her ethnicity, an important element in the successful outcome of the social work intervention (Burlingame, 1999).
Another clinical concept encountered in the field placement focused on what Holstein (2001 2002) characterized as the devaluation of older women's bodies - which is often accompanied by a sense of being unloved, unattractive, and consequently devalued as a person. One woman with whom I worked was a healthy, relatively active 69-year-old who was recently widowed and who felt that she would "always be alone" because "of her age and her looks." This client had attempted to participate in an "older singles' group sponsored by a church organization, but felt uncomfortable because of her age; she was Asian-American and, though surrounded by her children and grandchildren, felt that the "best part" of her life had ended with her husband's death.
To assist the client in overcoming her fears of rejection and her sense of isolation, social workers at gateway encouraged her to participate in a wider range and variety of activities with peers of both genders. At the micro level, an exercise regime and a new diet assisted the client in regaining a greater sense of physical appeal. At the macro level, her participation in group activities with others similarly situated returned her to a more positive outlook on life. She...
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