The Benefits of Geriatric Therapy
By: Christian Baginski, Masters Level Intern
The Geriatric population is a group that is unfortunately often overlooked in many areas of day-to-day American lives. One such area is therapy. Individuals aged 64 and older participate in therapy at roughly half the rate of other adults from 18-63 (cdc.gov). There are many reasons why this may be the case including social barriers for individuals of this age as well as the belief they may not need it after going so long without it. Perhaps unsurprisingly therapy can do great work with this population on a variety of specific issues. Elders often encounter issues that are unique or much more common to their population than others. Individuals at this age are getting towards the end of their life and acceptance of this fact can be difficult. This alone often also means that many of their closest friends may have already passed on resulting in anxiety surrounding the people they still have left. At this age it is common for people to start seeing a decrease in functioning and learning to live with this can take quite a toll on an individual’s self-esteem. Difficulty walking, remembering, and sexual dysfunction are all common things that can significantly inhibit someone’s quality of life (Atiq, 2006). All these concerns have significant weight for many people at this age resulting in the development of many different beliefs about oneself that can be further debilitating if gone unchecked. For these reasons the geriatric population can stand to benefit a great deal from therapy. Therapy for people of this age varies of course but often operates under the assumption that these clients have had time to process many of the things they are going through and have a pretty good understanding of their life. This population is not often looking for massive changes but sometimes needs help making small tweaks to their way of thinking. Exploring big concepts like meaning, death, and isolation are highly valuable as they coincide with big picture concerns many members of the Geriatric population have.
If you are a member of this population and have any inclination that you might want to try therapy, I highly encourage it. Despite having this background understanding I never want to assume that this data is purely representative of you. I want to get to meet you and learn about you just like all my other clients. We also have other greatly talented clinicians who would be happy to help you work thought the personal problems that are on your mind. Elders have unique issues that deserve deliberate care, respect, and understanding. I hope you consider trying it out.
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Atiq R. (2006) Common themes and issues in geriatric psychotherapy. Psychiatry (Edgmont). 53-6.
Terlizzi, E. P., Zablotsky, B. (2020). Mental health treatment among adults: united states, 2019. NCHS Data Brief, No 380