Psychological problems and mental disorders can affect people of all ages, even seniors. In fact, in this age group, they are not uncommon. They are often associated with a sense of loneliness or the death of a very close person, but they can also have a medical background. Mental problems significantly hinder everyday functioning and limit independence. That is why we should not be indifferent to the mental suffering of an elderly person from our close environment. Psychotherapy can be helpful in this situation.
What problems does the elderly face?
The real problem that bothers older people the most is loneliness. It can be said that loneliness in Poland has the face of an older woman, because there are definitely more women than men, because they live longer than men. Observations show that people over 80 feel the most lonely. All because they become practically invisible to the public. What’s more, they start thinking about themselves that no one cares about them. One in ten people over 80 are not visited by anyone, and three out of ten people do not maintain any relationship with anyone, even with family.
Older people also suffer from health problems, which can further deepen their loneliness. They often feel helpless and strong sadness related to the fact that they are unable to perform even the simplest activities on their own, which means that they are doomed to the mercy or disgrace of other people.
Elders are accompanied by death at every step. Their loved ones pass away: their spouse, friends and acquaintances. The death of a partner with whom some have lived for several decades becomes a huge tragedy.
Considering all this, it is no wonder that older people are beginning to be troubled by mental problems. They often fall into depression, and some suffer from dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease, cerebral circulatory disorders or Parkinson’s disease. They also suffer from memory problems, which is sometimes associated with increased levels of social isolation.
Is psychotherapy a good choice for a senior?
One solution that can help an elderly person deal with certain problems and improve their mental health is psychotherapy. As you know, psychotherapy is a method of treating diseases, disorders and abnormalities concerning the psyche. It consists in a series of meetings between the patient and the therapist, which can be individual or take place in a larger group. There are many types of therapy available, which is why they are always tailored to the individual needs of the patient.
Psychotherapy for seniors has many benefits:
- provides emotional relief and invaluable support,
- increases self-esteem,
- helps to cope with the loss of a loved one, termination of work or health problems,
- helps to build relationships with loved ones,
- provides contact with another person.
During therapy, seniors can look at their lives from the outside. It often helps them to understand and accept some things that they found difficult to come to terms with for many years.
Physical activity in senior therapy
The methods of therapy used as part of psychotherapy for seniors are different. Physical activity can have a positive impact on health, as it turns out, not only physical but also mental. Of course, we are talking about light or moderate physical effort here. Older people can take walks or simple exercises indicated by a psychologist or psychotherapist, if their health allows it. The point is to move as much as possible.
Endorphins are released during physical exertion. happiness hormones. This helps to reduce the risk of developing depression or other mood disorders. It also helps in fighting these problems. Sport generally improves well-being to a great extent.
Physical activity in the therapy of seniors also helps to relieve negative emotions that have accumulated in them over the years. An active senior also copes better with emotions, both positive and negative. Sport also reduces stress levels and keeps your mind occupied. Older people often worry about various things that should not even bother them. And when they focus on exercise, they can forget about the worries and problems of everyday life for a while.
- Kądalska E., Olszewski R., Sadura-Sieklucka T. i in., Pomagam seniorowi. Jak dbać o tych, którym tyle zawdzięczamy?, Fundacja Biedronki i Szlachetna Paczka, 2020.
- Gieroba B., Wpływ aktywności fizycznej na zdrowie psychiczne i funkcje poznawcze, Medycyna Ogólna i Nauki o Zdrowiu, 2019, tom 25, nr 3, 153-161.