Counseling can be helpful at any age, but it’s often overlooked later in life. While there are many great life experiences that happen in older age, there are also some challenges. If you or an aging loved one is experiencing any difficult mental health symptoms, you should consider reaching out to a therapist. Seniors are less likely to receive mental health treatment than younger adults, possibly because they’re more private about their symptoms. It may take some time to convince an older loved one to try therapy. There are plenty of benefits of senior counseling to speak of, though.
Here Are Seven Ways Senior Counseling Can Make Your or Your Loved One’s Life Better
1. Positive Lifestyle Changes and Coping Skills
Seniors sometimes have difficulty making changes in their habits or routines. It’s very easy to get comfortable with your lifestyle, but change can be a good thing. Some struggles are outside of our control, but others become more manageable when we take steps to mitigate them.
Senior counseling can help you identify the positive changes that may benefit your life. Working with a counselor can also make it easier to implement those changes. In therapy, your counselor will rarely tell you exactly what to do. Instead, they’ll explore your options with you and encourage you to make the choices that will lead to a healthier and happier life.
2. Managing Grief and Loss
Unfortunately, loss becomes more common with age. Seniors may face grief when friends, siblings, a spouse, or other loved ones pass away. Just because loss becomes more frequent doesn’t mean it becomes easier.
Therapy is one of the best ways to process loss and work through grief. Some seniors hesitate to reach out to the people in their life for support because they don’t want to burden anyone. With counseling, you don’t have to worry about that. Your counselor’s job is to work with you as you mourn, so you can be completely open and honest throughout the process.
Grief is a long-term experience, and it’s important to properly acknowledge all of the emotions involved. Therapy provides a safe environment for seniors to express their feelings and develop ways to cope with the loss.
3. Accepting a Health Diagnosis
Physical health problems are common later in life, but some seniors have a difficult time accepting a health diagnosis. Denial or avoidance in these situations can be very harmful. It may lead to skipping medications, missing doctor appointments, or eating foods that make the health problem worse.
Therapy can be an excellent resource for seniors who are struggling with a new diagnosis. Any physical health problem can take an emotional toll, but processing the situation in therapy can help. Seniors can also use therapy to find ways to adapt and continue living a meaningful life despite their diagnosis.
Counseling can help older adults learn how to ask for help, too. Many people value self-sufficiency and feel uncomfortable asking others for assistance. Asking for help is sometimes necessary, though, especially when facing health issues. In senior counseling, you or your loved one can work through feelings of discomfort that may arise when you rely on someone else for help.
4. Adjusting to Life Changes
Transitions happen at all stages of life, but seniors face some of the biggest changes. Retirement can be a major change as it affects your daily routine and social circle. Some older adults move to retirement homes or senior living communities. Physical health problems could affect your ability to get out into the community, which can be a drastic lifestyle change. Family structures can shift, too.
Even positive changes, like the birth of a grandchild, can sometimes be difficult to process. Any transition can alter your daily routine or your relationships, and this can be particularly challenging for seniors who are set in their ways. In therapy, you can speak about your feelings regarding these changes without fear of judgment. Counseling for the elderly can help you understand your response to change and find ways to cope with your new normal.
5. Strengthening Cognitive Function
Not all seniors struggle with cognitive decline, but diagnoses like Alzheimer’s and dementia can affect your cognitive health. One of the best ways to prevent or slow cognitive decline is to regularly exercise your mind.
Therapy involves conversation, which can be a great opportunity for seniors to practice their language processing. The in-depth, lengthy discussions that happen during therapy sessions can help to keep your mind sharp.
Therapists who specialize in senior counseling may have specific exercises or activities designed to strengthen your cognitive health, too. They understand the signs and symptoms of cognitive decline, and they can structure the therapy sessions in a way that challenges you without overwhelming you.
6. Resolving Problems From the Past
Unresolved events from the past can affect your mental health long-term. Many seniors are still struggling with challenges from earlier in life. These unresolved issues may start to feel more uncomfortable in older age.
Family is the primary support network for most seniors. If you or a loved one experienced family conflicts or trauma, it could lead to severe feelings of loneliness. You may not feel comfortable speaking about these issues within your own family, which can be very isolating.
Therapy is the ideal place to explore these events. Even if they happened decades ago, it’s still worth processing your experience and the effect it had. Your therapist is a neutral party, so you don’t have to worry about offending anyone or being judged. They’re here to listen and support, so you can speak freely about your life experiences.
7. Combating Loneliness
Loneliness in seniors is a pervasive problem. Many seniors have fewer relationships than they did earlier in life, and they may not be able to interact with others as much as they would like.
Although a client-therapist relationship isn’t the same as the relationship between friends or family, it can still be a meaningful form of interaction. The connection between yourself and the therapist is an important part of the therapy process, and feeling that bond with someone can be a great way to combat loneliness.
Counseling for senior citizens has countless benefits. You don’t need to have a diagnosed mental health condition or be in the middle of a crisis to try therapy. There are so many reasons seniors engage in counseling, and the experience can improve your mental, emotional, and physical health.
Blue Moon Senior Counseling offers therapy for older adults. Our licensed, experienced counselors specialize in working with seniors, so they understand the many purposes that therapy serves for elderly individuals. If you’re interested in connecting with a therapist, contact Blue Moon Senior Counseling today.