Whether it’s the loss of a loved one or struggling with feelings of isolation, there are specific mental health challenges that seniors face. Fortunately, there is a relatively new branch of psychology that might be able to help. Geropsychology, originating in 2010, is a field of psychology that specializes in the mental health issues of seniors specifically.
How Geropsychology Can Help
Mental Health Concerns in Older Adults
Mental health can include many aspects. Therefore, those aspects are emotional, social, and physical well-being. It influences how we feel, think, and act as we cope with daily life. It also determines how we relate to others, handle stress, and make decisions and is important at every stage of life.
However, older adults are at risk for mental health issues. However, this doesn’t mean it is a normal stage of aging. Many older adults feel very happy with their lives even though they may have more physical limitations. This indicates that mental health issues are something separate.
Major life changes like losing a close friend or spouse, retirement, and illness can cause you to feel stressed, sad, or uneasy. But some people have more difficulty adjusting to these changes than others. This can result in a higher risk of mental disruption such as depression and anxiety.
Therefore, it is essential to recognize and treat these issues in older adults as they arise. Such disorders don’t just create mental suffering but can also make it harder for people to manage their problems. This is particularly true if conditions are chronic. Some warning signs of mental unease are:
- Changes in mood
- Changes in energy levels
- Withdrawing from people
- Not enjoying hobbies anymore
- Changes in eating habits
- Sleep disturbances
- Feeling unusually confused, forgetful, upset, or angry
- Feeling numb and apathetic
- Having unexplained aches and pains
- Feeling sadness or hopelessness
- Increased drinking, smoking, or using other drugs
- Intrusive thoughts
- Hearing voices and believing things that are not true
- Thinking of harming yourself
What is Geropsychology
Geropsychology is a special field of professional psychology. It also takes the knowledge and methods of standard psychology and applies them to the understanding and helping of older adults. This helps you and your family maintain well-being as you age, overcome problems, and achieve maximum potential later in life. Therefore, geropsychologists appreciate the diversity among older adults, the complex ethical issues that can arise in geriatric practices, and the importance of cooperative disciplines of care.
Specialized Knowledge of Geropsychologists
- Normal adult development and aging, including biological, psychological, and social changes.
- Behavioral and mental health changes later in life, including medical, neurological, and functional.
Problems Geropsychologists Might Address
- Depression and anxiety
- Dementia and related behaviors
- Coping with chronic illness
- Changes in decision making
- Behavioral concerns, i.e. insomnia, pain, or irritability
- Caregiver burnout
- Changing family roles
- End of life care
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