As we age, we get to see many major life changes like career transition, retirement, children leaving home, loss of loved ones, physical and mental health challenges. More than anything, loss of independence affects an individual. Many are not well equipped to manage these challenges. Lucky are the ones who are prepared or have that kind of a support from the family. At times family wants to support but they do not know how to.
Ageing causes changes in: brain size, vasculature (blood vessels) and cognition. As we age our brain shrinks in volume and size, the pressure of blood in the vasculature (blood vessels) rises which further leads to stroke and ischemic (reduced blood flow) in the brain and also memory decline is associated with ageing. One can experience chemical changes, hormonal changes and of course the changes due to the life experiences which cannot be negated.
Burden of mental health disorders is increasing in the elderly due to various reasons discussed above. The mental disorders frequently encountered in Indian elderly include dementia and depression. Other disorders include anxiety disorders, drug and alcohol abuse, delirium and psychosis.
After facing life’s ups and downs; facing the challenges and eventually overcoming them; having had a productive family life and work life; and then to live a life altogether different may become difficult to many elderly. Some may not even cope with the changes that old age poses. When faced with such situations approaching geriatric counselling can help.
Geriatric counselling will enable elderly clients to cope with the changes and learn to manage the losses they experience. It also gives them time and privacy to discuss thoughts and feelings they may be experiencing, manage their emotions, find new ways of enjoyment and meaning, find new support systems, etc.
The good news about elderly mental health is that it is a treatable condition. In addition to the possibility of clinical intervention through the use of prescribed medications or therapy, there are a number of activities and resources available to help the elderly.
Learning to adapt to change and healthy ageing, also means finding new ways and means of enjoyment, staying physically and socially active, and feeling connected to your community and loved ones