We may define therapy as a search for value.
— Abraham Maslow
Growing older implies transition. Almost every aspect of a person’s life shifts when they grow into old age — from living arrangements and health care to social activities and sense of connection. But perhaps more significant than anything else are the emotional changes that occur on the inside. Dealing with isolation, physical transformation, illness, and grief can understandably be challenging. Managing mental health care An absence of proper mental health care can be dangerous for seniors, particularly those living at home. Senior suicide is a serious problem; sadly, many elderly people experience their last years through a cloud of depression. Fortunately, there is real-help available for seniors living at home. It’s no longer necessary to suffer alone. “Therapy can help older adults who may have difficulty with the transitions of aging to manage their emotions, find new sources of enjoyment and meaning, and find new support systems.” On this front, IOA’s psychological services are available for older adults who find themselves needing help with depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues. If you know someone who is struggling, consider reaching out on their behalf, as “it is important that caregivers and friends reach out for help if the individual cannot do so.”
Depression is often misunderstood as something that people can fix on their own, or that talking with family or friends is sufficient support. In reality, help with depression often requires outside assistance from a trained professional. Therapists and psychologists are skilled at listening compassionately, as well as teaching seniors practical, cognitive tools with which to navigate transitions with greater ease. Additionally, depression and anxiety can also be the underlying cause of numerous other health issues, including sleep problems, lack of self-worth, and physical pain. In many cases, when an elderly person gets proper help with depression, they also experience that their other health problems improve simultaneously.
Psychological services for seniors
However, there are a few reasons why senior depression might go untreated. Since many older adults live at home alone, they might not have anyone with whom to speak about their feelings. At the same time, because depression is widely misunderstood, they might not realize that they deserve professional help. Lastly, an elderly person may assume that seeking help would require leaving their home to go to a hospital or center — this might feel too daunting, or be logistically unattainable, depending on their physical and mental condition. For these reasons and more, the Institute on Aging’s psychological services include home care visits. After a referral, a trained therapist from IOA will reach out to the senior in need and compassionately explain the services. From there, the first appointment is set-up as either a house-call or center visit, depending on what best suits the senior. After meeting to determine what the senior’s needs are, they create a plan that will best meet them — this is a collaborative process in which the senior plays a large role in their personal healing.
Help with depression at home
Happily, help with depression for seniors is made affordable by organizations like the Institute on Aging. At IOA, psychotherapy is “offered on a sliding scale,” where a mutually agreeable payment is decided upon before beginning. Some of the different approaches used by IOA’s trained professionals include cognitive behavioral therapy, supportive psychotherapy, mindfulness-based therapies, and problem-solving therapy. If you know an older adult — whether a family member, friend, or client — who might be having a difficult time handling the myriad transitions they’re facing, please consider speaking with them or assisting them in finding help through one of the many forms of therapy available. Our dedicated staff is waiting to connect with you through the Institute on Aging Connect, at 415.750.4111. Acquiring cognitive tools for healthy living not only helps to heal current mental health issues in seniors, but works to prevent further depression and anxiety in the future. Rather than suffer through overwhelming grief, isolation, or fear of death alone, speaking with a professional can help elderly people live out their remaining years with a greater sense of peace and presence of mind.
If you are unsure of how to best help an aging loved one, the trained and compassionate staff at the Institute on Aging is here to help you make that decision and gain the best in at-home senior care. Contact us to find out more.