With many offices closed or at reduced capacity over the past year, more and more counselors are offering telehealth services. Online mental health care providers have a variety of benefits for patients, but it’s understandable that some older adults are apprehensive to try it. However, if a loved one is experiencing depression or anxiety and isn’t able to get help outside the home, it’s worth it to give telehealth therapy a try before those feelings become worse.
According to the Center for Disease Control, up to five percent of seniors living at home are depressed, and that doubles for those living in an assisted living facility. Washington University geriatric psychiatrist Eric Lenze, MD, claimed that in older patients, depression can “cause problems with memory and attention, and greatly increase the disability that accompanies medical problems.”
Those are excellent reasons to convince someone you care about to get the help they need— no matter how they get it.
The benefits of seeing an online mental health provider
Besides the health advantages that any type of counseling can provide, here are some good reasons to seek online therapy.
- Online therapists are just as qualified as in-person therapists. Most online counselors are licensed mental health professionals who have passed licensing tests and background checks.
- It can be just as affordable as in-office care. Medicare expanded its telehealth coverage in March 2020 to include mental health services for qualifying patients, so any online counselor who accepts Medicare will be affordable. And even if an online therapist doesn’t accept insurance, they usually charge under $100 per session, which is the same as an in-person visit.
- It’s safer to stay home. With so much concern about COVID-19, seniors should feel comforted that they can stay away from germs and still share their feelings over the phone or computer. This should also be a relief to the elderly who no longer feel comfortable driving.
- It provides much needed social connection. Heidi Donald, Licensed Clinical Social Worker at Renew Mind and Body Wellness in Columbia, IL, claimed loneliness can cause depression to spiral, so face-to-face interaction is always helpful. “Since the beginning of Covid, Facetime has allowed seniors to stay connected to their families, and that has been a saving grace for a lot of really sad people,” stated Donald— “So even if it is through a screen, talking to a counselor about concerns can provide that human connection needed to help seniors overcome depression.”
- It takes less time. Not having to get up, get dressed, (in some cases) put makeup on, and drive 30 minutes each way means less exhaustion, especially for older people who are in chronic pain.
- It’s more confidential. Particularly if a patient lives in a small town, there’s a good chance of running into a familiar face in a counselor’s office. When a patient sees an online therapist, it stays just between the two of them.
Need help finding senior online mental help services?
If you’re ready to get started with an online counselor but overwhelmed by all the choices in telehealth therapy, check out our guide for the Best Online Mental Health Tools for Seniors.