Counselling for SENIORS

Psychotherapy for seniors and older adults has been

demonstrated to be as effective as for younger

populations.

Many older adults and seniors face a variety

of challenges such as different types of

losses, transitions (e.g., retirement),

coping with chronic health conditions,

new family social roles, changes in

residences, and loneliness.

All of these circumstances can affect

one’s identity, sense of meaning and

purpose, belonging, self-esteem,

and well-being.

Being able to talk freely about your concerns

with a psychologist is an important step forward.

Our aim is to help older adults and seniors face challenges

with the wisdom they have gained from their life experiences and personal resources.

Psychotherapy provides you with a time to reflect and examine your unique life history within an emphatic relationship. A strong therapeutic relationship offers a space to clarify complex feelings, reduce emotional distress, and make sense of your needs in the face of challenging circumstances. Changes from therapy can result in feeling more empowered and a greater sense of belonging within your community of family and peers.

Our approach to therapy for older adults and seniors is individualized, compassionate and informed by research.

Older adults include five decades of individuals. The differences among older adults is diverse and actually greater than those seen in other age groups. Psychological stressors experienced by older adults and seniors may differ according to age group, gender, race, ethnicity, cultural background, health and disability status, education, socioeconomic status and religion.

Loss and loneliness for seniors

One of the most common themes encountered in therapy is loss. Inevitably over the years and particularly in advanced age, one loses many things. For example, older adults and seniors suffer multiple losses such as spouses, friends, relatives, roles, functions, and independence, which may occur alongside fear of anticipated future losses.

Social isolation and loneliness are health risks affecting approximately one-third to one-half of the older adult population. These experiences can have a negative impact on physical and mental health and have been linked to depression, anxiety, dementia, and increased risk of cognitive decline.

We have an indispensable need for strong attachments and social connection, especially when dealing with emotional distress. Just as every human requires food and water to develop, function and thrive, we also require connectedness and human contact. A large body of literature confirms the need for healthy attachments and indicates that social participation and feeling supported are associated with better mental and physical health.

Therapy can improve the quality of a person’s relationships, enhance communication skills and strengthen social functioning. It also provides an opportunity to explore current and unresolved feelings associated with loss which can otherwise negatively impact social engagement.

Finding your purpose

A sense of meaning and purpose in your life is important for overall wellbeing. What each person defines as meaningful changes over the course of their life, particularly during later life transitions. For example, retiring from a career that was meaningful and fulfilling may leave you feeling somewhat lost. Therapy can help you explore, discover and hone in on meaningful activities and behaviours at your current life stage that enhance your sense of purpose.

Over the past two decades, many studies have indicated that older adults and seniors with a sense of purpose in life have better sleep, fewer strokes and heart attacks, and are at lower risk of dementia, disability and premature death. Individuals with a strong sense of purpose are more likely to embrace preventative health services like mammograms, colonoscopies and flu shots.

Purpose in life can arise from learning something new, accomplishing a new goal, working together with other people or making new social connections when others are lost. Older adults and seniors often discover a sense of purpose from taking care of grandchildren, volunteering or becoming involved in community service work or religion.

Understanding what is important to you and engaging in treasured activities is fundamental to overall life satisfaction. Finding purpose and building meaning into life is rarely an epiphany. It may take time to develop and can begin in therapy through introspection, conversation and a commitment to act.

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