Aging adults are going through a lot of changes, but they don’t have to manage them alone. Licensed counselors who are especially trained in senior care can help your loved one get through tough issues that you may not understand, such as grief and loss, depression, and chronic illness. Here’s how working with a therapist and seeking mental health counseling can make a world of difference in the life of an older adult.
It’s never easy to accept an illness, especially one that can’t be cured. Whether it’s a cognitive condition such as Alzheimer’s, or a serious physical condition such as cancer, a counselor can help seniors accept their diagnosis and teach them how to manage emotional reactions.
“Seniors are dealing with physical issues that greatly impact their mental health,” stated Heidi Donald, licensed clinical social worker and owner of Renew Mind and Body Wellness— “All of those things are accompanied by strong emotions, and a counselor who is trained to address these issues will have the tools to help seniors handle those emotions better.”
When it comes to overall well-being, attitude really is everything. Seniors who are dealing with pain and loneliness can become negative and hopeless very quickly, and counselors are really good at focusing on the good things in life. Instead of giving up on life and letting go, talking to a counselor can help your loved one choose to keep moving forward.
Elderly people experience the loss of multiple people they love, from spouses to siblings to close friends. Professional counselors such as those at Blue Moon Senior Counseling can help seniors work through all of the following necessary stages of grief and loss:
Denial. This is a state of initial shock, when powerful emotions are delayed to allow for coping. A person can feel a mix of emotions from fear, confusion, numbness, avoidance and even elation.
Anger. As scary as anger can be, it’s actually grief being expressed as rage. Feeling and expressing it can help allow grief to dissipate, so it’s extremely necessary.
Bargaining. This is one of the hardest because it leads a person to contemplate what they could have done differently to change the loss.
Depression. Once there is a realization that a loved one isn’t coming back, there is profound sadness and despair. It’s hard, but it must be felt in order to heal.
Acceptance. This allows one to see a permanent reality in order to adapt to life as it will be from this point forward.
Many of us with aging parents have seen how hard it is for them to accept help, and that’s understandable since they’re the ones who took care of us for so long. But physically, seniors really can benefit from allowing a caregiver to step in and help with housework, transportation, and even hygiene. Talking with a counselor can allow seniors to voice concerns over losing their independence while also learning to accept assistance.
Seniors who don’t get a lot of visitors at home or who are living in assisted living facilities are subject to depression from lack of social interaction. A counselor is someone who cares about their well-being and can provide that social interaction at the same time. Even if an older person can’t physically make it to a counselor’s office, Donald said online therapy can be beneficial.
“Even if it is through a screen, talking to a counselor about concerns can provide that human connection needed to help seniors overcome depression.”