Counseling Awareness for Seniors
April is Counseling Awareness Month and is the perfect time to address an aspect of senior health that often goes neglected: mental wellness.
It’s no secret that the changes that occur as we age can bring unique hurdles for ourselves and loved ones.
Although many adults anticipate the transition from middle age to retirement, it’s hard to know what to expect during adjustment.
Additionally, some might develop health problems and experience stress as they move from one age group to the next.
These issues are more common than we think, and receiving the right guidance from a mental health professional can make these changes much easier to deal with.
Counseling Awareness Month: Addressing Common Issues for Seniors
Of course, everyone views the aging process differently. But while some look at the next stage in their life as a turning point, some may feel more trepidation for a variety of reasons.
For some wishing to work during their golden years, ageism may make finding employment difficult.
Ageism can also unintentionally cause other relatives to disregard a senior’s feelings or wishes. This can make the adult feel disregarded, alone, and financially disputed.
Physical and Mental Decline
Some seniors may face new or unexpected challenges, such as fragility, limited mobility, or other health conditions that impact their ability to appreciate meaningful pursuits or perform activities of daily living.
One of the most common obstacles older adults encounter with age are variations in their memory and cognitive capabilities, for instance:
- Visual and verbal retention
- Visuospatial skills
- Immediate recall
Mental Health Concerns
Of course, mental decline is a regular part of aging. However, conditions like dementia can significantly diminish their quality of life and lead to other problems, such as depression, paranoia, and anxiety.
15% of adults 60 and older have a mental health concern. The parenthesis indicates the percentage of older adults struggling with the issue.
- Anxiety (6%)
- Sexual dysfunction
- Sleep difficulties
- Depression, which is often undiagnosed (7%)
- Behavioral issues, such as aggression, wandering, outbursts, etc.
- Suicide, with older adults having the highest rate of all age populations
- Substance abuse or dependence (50%)
Counseling Awareness Month: The Benefits of Therapy for Seniors
During Counseling Awareness Month, older adults can look into the ways a therapist or similar professional can ease the changes that come with aging.
A therapist can also offer examinations and evaluations to prepare a satisfactory treatment plan. They can also give interventions and guidance to caregivers and relatives responsible for an elder’s care.
For those struggling to manage their emotions because of the changes they are going through, therapy can discover new support networks and sources of happiness or purpose.
A mental health professional can guide an older adult grappling with their mortality as well as provide support to deal with the loss of loved ones.
Furthermore, family and individual counseling can help family caregivers work through their feelings and become better communicators.
More Older Adults Are Seeking Mental Health Help
Unfortunately, many Baby Boomers grew up in an era when mental health was quickly dismissed and stigmatized. All too often, mental illness was assumed to be a symptom of aging or dementia.
But more older adults than ever see a therapist for assistance with problems unrelated to aging.
As awareness about the importance of counseling rises, traditional attitudes many seniors hold toward therapy services will change for the better.
Many seniors recognize the value that therapy has and are more willing to seek out treatment and take it seriously.
Studies show that older adults achieve results faster than those who are younger than them. This swiftness may stem from the recognition that they have limited time to resolve their issues.
Additionally, longer lifespans are another reason why more seniors seek late-in-life mental health treatment. A 60-year-old will now probably live to 80 or beyond, and this may inspire them to enroll in counseling.
Lowering Barriers to Therapy Services
Throughout Counseling Awareness Month, mental health professionals and older adults alike must examine common barriers for seniors seeking therapy.
Although more seniors are engaging in counseling, they still face several hurdles concerning services. These are most often:
- Limited mobility or transportation can make getting to appointments stressful and challenging.
- “Nonessential” activities like therapy may not be a priority due to a loss of independence.
- Many seniors have a low or fixed monthly income, and mediations that seen as ineffective may be suspended.
- Medicare is often hard to sort through, and some seniors may need help accessing these benefits.
Mental health professionals who work with older clients can take a multidisciplinary approach and coordinate with the elder’s care team and family.
Don’t be afraid to address your mental wellbeing. After all, it’s just as vital as your physical state!
Counseling Awareness Month is the perfect time to reflect on your needs, inside and out.
If you’re already participating in some form of mental health service, pat yourself on the back, and don’t forget to thank your therapist for their work.
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Be sure to check the blog for resources and tips for happy, healthy senior living.
- “Counseling the Elderly – IResearchNet.” Psychology, 8 Feb. 2016, psychology.iresearchnet.com/counseling-psychology/counseling-process/counseling-the-elderly/.
- “Older Adult Counseling.” Home, silverliningspllc.com/older-adult-counseling.
- Team, GoodTherapy Editor. “Mental Health Concerns in Aging Adults.” Therapy for Geriatric and Aging Issues, Therapist for Geriatric and Aging Issues, GoodTherapy, Nov. 2019, www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/issues/aging.