Boom or bust? What can people older and growing do to take care of their mental health?
According to Age UK, a charity that works to improve the lives of older people, the most common concerns for people over 60 include health, social isolation, and financial difficulties.
Many older people experience:
Chronic health problems such as arthritis, heart disease, and dementia.
Social isolation leading to loneliness,
Depression and anxiety
A decline in physical mobility and mental health
Financial difficulties leading to poverty
What prevents people older and growing from accessing counselling?
The over 60s have various reasons for not accessing mental health support. Some of these may be related to stigma around seeking help, or a lack of digital literacy. Some older people may feel unable to navigate the complex array of websites, directories and apps that have flooded the digital mental health landscape.
A study published in the Journal of Mental Health found that older adults may be more likely to perceive mental health issues as a personal weakness or character flaw.
The study also found that older adults may be less likely to seek mental health treatment due to concerns about stigma and the perceived negative attitudes of healthcare professionals.
Many older people may not have grown up with technology or had exposure to it in their formative years. This can make it more difficult for them to learn how to use new technologies.
Some older adults may be anxious or fearful about using new technology, particularly if they are worried about making mistakes. This anxiety can make it more difficult to learn and use new technologies.
Some people may be more open to seeking help and may view counselling as a positive step towards improving their mental health and well-being.
If you know anyone who is struggling to access online services you could support them to gain new digital skills and find a therapist, community group or to stay in touch digitally with friends and family. Here are some useful links:
Age UK provides a variety of digital inclusion services to help older people access the internet, including digital skills training, advice on buying and using digital devices, and support for using online services.
Digital Unite: https://www.digitalunite.com/
Digital Unite is a charity that provides training and support for digital skills, including for older people. They offer a range of online resources, including a free digital skills course called "Digital Champions."
Good Things Foundation: https://www.goodthingsfoundation.org/
Good Things Foundation is a social change charity that works to improve digital inclusion, including for older people. They offer a range of resources, including free online courses and a directory of local support services.
UK Online Centres: https://www.onlinecentresnetwork.org/
UK Online Centres is a network of community-based organisations that provide digital skills training and support. They have a specific program called "Silver Surfers," which is designed to help older people access and use the internet.
Learn My Way: https://www.learnmyway.com/
Learn My Way is a free online learning platform provided by Good Things Foundation. It offers a range of courses on digital skills, including courses specifically designed for older people.
Why person-centred counselling may be a useful support for the baby boomer generation and others who are older and growing.
Life transitions: Baby boomers may be going through significant life transitions such as retirement, becoming empty nesters, or dealing with the loss of loved ones.
Physical health issues: As people age, they may face physical health problems that can impact their emotional well-being. These may include chronic pain, illness, and disability, which can lead to feelings of depression, anxiety, and loss of independence.
Mental health issues: Baby boomers may experience mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, or substance abuse, which can be related to life transitions, physical health issues, sexuality or other factors.
Relationship issues: As people age, their relationships with partners, family members, and friends may change, and conflicts may arise. Counselling can provide a safe space to discuss relationship issues and develop strategies to improve communication and resolve conflicts.
Personal growth and development: Some baby boomers may seek counselling to work on personal growth and development, explore new interests, or find new purpose in life.
Person-centred counselling can be a valuable resource by helping people to:
improve their emotional wellbeing
develop new coping strategies
gain a better understanding of themselves
find ways to navigate the challenges and opportunities of later life.
What are the benefits of online counselling for older people?
Therapy can promote meaning and purpose in later life: A study published in the Journal of Ageing Studies found that therapy can promote a sense of meaning and purpose in later life, which can enhance emotional well-being and quality of life.
Online counselling has become increasingly popular in recent years, and there are several benefits of online counselling for older people. According to a study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, some of the benefits include:
Increased accessibility: Online counselling can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection, making it easier for people who have mobility issues or live in remote areas to access counselling services.
Convenience: Online counselling can be done from the comfort of one's own home, making it more convenient for people with busy schedules or transportation issues.
Reduced stigma: Some people may be hesitant to seek counselling in person due to the perceived stigma associated with mental health issues. Online counselling can help reduce this stigma.
Cost-effective: Online counselling can be less expensive than traditional in-person counselling, which may be helpful for people on a limited budget.
Increased anonymity: Online counselling can provide a greater degree of anonymity, which may be helpful for people who feel uncomfortable discussing personal issues in person.
The final word
Therapy can make the lives of older people more fulfilling, purposeful, and meaningful by helping them to address mental health issues, improve their emotional wellbeing, enhancing their social connections, developing new coping strategies and building resilience.
Ruby Wax reminds us that "mental illness is not a personal failure" and now’s the time to treat your mental health as importantly as your physical health.
Is it time to talk?
If you'd like to talk about any of the issues raised in this blog then please do contact me by email on firstname.lastname@example.org