New York City
Marriage & Family Therapist
Substance Abuse Counselor
As individuals age, they are confronted with physical, emotional and social changes that can be difficult to manage, even with the devoted support of family and friends. In dealing with geriatric issues in therapy, attention is given to the normal psychology of aging, dealing with medical illness, grief and loss, living with cognitive dysfunction, anxiety disorders, mood disorders, somatization and its syndromes, and issues involving primary caregivers.
therapists have training and experience in the diagnosis and treatment of
mental disorders that may occur in older adults. These disorders may
include, but are not limited to, dementia, depression, anxiety and
late-life schizophrenia. Other common concerns for the elderly, which
bring them to therapy, include dealing with losses – loss of loved ones,
declining physical abilities, feelings of isolation, adjusting to illness,
making decisions about assisted living and long term care, and loss of
independence. Often it is the
caretaker or adult child who seeks therapy to deal with issues related to
their elderly parent or other relative.
The therapist takes a comprehensive approach by listening and
responding to concerns, helping families and, when appropriate, working
with a patient’s primary care doctor and other health professionals to
develop effective approaches to treatment.
Elderly patients experience many changes in their lives making them more vulnerable to disease, notably, depression. Often the lines are not clear as to whether a patient’s problem is depression, dementia, or a medical illness presenting as a behavioral disturbance. A psychiatric professional in collaboration with the family physicians can often help to clarify this issue.
An elderly patient who is experiencing emotional and mental disturbances may dismiss the symptoms as a normal part of aging or as signs of physical illness. However, many acute mental health problems, when diagnosed properly, can be effectively treated with psychotherapy and/or medication and even short-term treatments can be very beneficial. Older adults can seek the help of a mental health professional directly; but often it is family members, doctors or caregivers who make the first contact.
Psychoeducation and Medication
Recent guidelines, in a detailed survey of 50 of the country's leading experts specializing in geriatric depression, showed that, for the treatment of many types of depression, the experts recommended combining psychotherapy with an antidepressant. The preferred psychotherapy techniques for treating depression in older patients were cognitive-behavioral, supportive psychotherapy, problem-solving psychotherapy, and interpersonal psychotherapy.
The experts also recommended that clinicians consider other psychosocial interventions such as psychoeducation, family counseling, and visiting nurse services, in addition to medication and psychotherapy.
If you are coping with geriatric mental health issues or have a family member that is, there is help. Professional assessment is the first step, with a screening and evaluation for appropriate mental health interventions.
For further information or to schedule an appointment, call our offices to speak to a therapist about your particular needs and concerns. We can match you or your elderly parent with a therapist who can meet your needs.
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