What is it
Australia’s population like the rest of the world is ageing, and according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, it is anticipated that by 2064 about 9.6 million people will be aged 65 and over, and 1.9 million aged 85 and over. Therefore, people are living longer, and as health problems are cumulative throughout life, they are more likely to be present also in older age. Currently, older adults are defined as those adults over the age of 65 years. A common myth associated with ageing refers to Depression and Anxiety being seen as a normal part of ageing which should be expected. This is not true, and interestingly, most older adults seem to report higher levels of well-being than younger adults.
What does it include
For some people however, growing older can be anxiety provoking. Depression, Anxiety, Grief, Psychosis, Adjustment and Death Anxiety are some common psychological problems that can present at any stage of life including in older age, and can adversely affect physical health and ability to function, especially in older adults. Some late-life problems that can result in depression and anxiety or difficulty in coping include acute and chronic physical health problems, insomnia, changes in memory and memory loss, caring for a spouse with a physical disability or dementia, changes in social support, grieving the death of loved ones including pets, adjusting to life changes, and managing conflict with family members.
How can a psychologist help
Psychologists play an important role in addressing the mental health needs and supporting the strengths of our growing population of older adults. The research shows that Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) is the most efficacious approach for assisting older adults and the elderly with symptoms of anxiety and depression. CBT can help to reduce the intensity of symptoms via education, learning to relax, behavioural activation, problem solving, identifying and developing more realistic and helpful interpretations of events and thinking styles, and exposure therapy. Interpersonal Psychotherapy has also been shown to be effective for addressing interpersonally related problems, and life changes and transitions that can be associated with later life.
Australian Bureau of Statistics. http://www.aihw.gov.au/ageing/about/
Carstensen, Laura L.; Isaacowitz, Derek M.; Charles, Susan T. (1999). “Taking time seriously: A theory of socioemotional selectivity”. American Psychologist, 54 (3): 165-181.
Hinrichsen, G.A. (2008). Interpersonal psychotherapy for late life depression: Current status and new applications. Journal of Rational-Emotive & Cognitive-Behavior Therapy, 26, 263-275.
Vaillant, G.E. (2003). Ageing Well: Guideposts to a Happier Life. Little, Brown & Company. New York, USA.
If you require additional information, please call our office on 07 3256 6320. Our mental health focused reception staff will be only too happy to assist you with your enquiry about our service and can suggest the most suitable Psychologist for your concern.