While depression and anxiety are not normal parts of the aging process, older adults are at higher risk of developing mental health symptoms. As they age, older adult clients may face a variety of positive and negative stressors, such as changes in employment (through retirement or job changes), living situation (like downsizing, or moving into a new community setting), health (new diagnoses, changes in ability), and relationship dynamics (expanding families, caregiving stress, or family conflict). Without support, these cumulative stressors could have an acute effect on mental and emotional health, contributing to higher levels of anxiety and depression, and lower levels of life satisfaction
Therapy can provide a space for older adult clients and their loved ones to explore and understand the emotional responses and psychological shifts that may surface during this stage of life. Through this exploration, therapy can provide the opportunity to learn and implement coping and communication skills to either maintain or build toward the life they want to live.
Therapists can provide an informed, compassionate perspective to older adult clients and their loved ones. Because some of the issues and dynamics facing older adults are so unique, it can be helpful to work with a therapist that is educated and experienced in working with the aging population. In therapy, your therapist will provide a safe, non-judgmental space where you can process your emotions and explore how topics related to aging relate to your overall mental health and emotional well-being.
Therapy for older adult clients can encompass all the experiences of adult life, as therapy provides not only an excellent opportunity to process current events and stressors, but also to review and process parts of a person’s individual story throughout their lives. Other specific common themes might include: building a sense of agency and confidence as you navigate new challenges, exploring existential themes such as meaning making or death anxiety, tending to the pain of grief and loss, identifying new values and curiosities, practicing, and implementing new coping skills, and connecting with resources in the local communities. Regardless of what your goals are for therapy, your therapist will be able to adapt to whatever your needs may be at the time.