Therapy Culture and Practice with Older Adults

The increasing number of people living longer lives is a cause of worldwide debate over how to enable those senior citizens aging with dignity. Instead of seeing them as looming social and economic burden, it is important to provide them care and understanding. How we care for our elderly citizens is a reflection of who we are as a society.

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In a not so distant past, people took it upon themselves to take care of their aging parents, and this custom continues in some of the traditional societies. Today, not only that people do not have enough time to do so, but they are also aware that senior citizens require much more knowledge and a professional approach and treatment.

 

General Knowledge about Aging

To be able to provide appropriate care to elderly citizens, it is important to be aware of how aging influences them, both physically and mentally. It is inevitable that aging brings with it the need to accommodate to numerous physical changes and functional limitations. Furthermore, different development of social and psychological changes, have a significant impact on how will the person accept the aging process.

Some of the normal biological changes accompanying aging are the ones impacting sensory acuity, body composition, performance capacity, immunological responses, etc.

 

Clinical Issues Accompanying Older People

Practitioners and therapists must realize that most of the older adults do not face any clinical issues and generally have good mental health. Still, certain percentage (20-22%) meets criteria for mental disorder. Whether they already have a history of mental illness or they develop certain condition as they are growing old, it is crucial to give an appropriate therapeutic response to all of the symptoms.

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 Some psychological issues tend to present with an emphasis on somatic rather than emotional symptoms (late-life depression, anxiety, etc.), so it is essential to keep a close eye for those clues. Senior citizens living with dementia may experience coexisting psychological symptoms (anxiety, depression, paranoia, etc.). The best way to respond to them is being familiar with symptoms presentations and prevailing mental disorders in late life.

 

Communicating with Older Adults

Sometimes, we have a tendency of stereotyping older people, and we rely on those stereotypes to reduce any uncertainties regarding communication with them. However, if that is the only thing we rely on then we are risking of being misunderstood or even thoughtless. What to do then?

First, you must recognize your own stereotypes, and then acknowledge that they do not have to be accurate. Ask thoughtful questions, but avoid patronizing with your speech. This kind of speech is viewed negatively by most of the elderly people, because it is disrespectful and reminds of “baby talk”. Pay attention to your nonverbal communication signals too.

 

Caring for Older People

Taking care of the elderly people requires a lot of patience and respect, but it is also something that should be thought. Medical practitioners are a valuable asset for training and educating new professionals, volunteers, and other team members and persons who are nursing seniors. They can also convey their knowledge to family members who have taken upon themselves to care for their senior family member.

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There is also a possibility of attending aged care course designed to achieve the same goals. As for the professional caregivers, they are encouraged to pursue continuous education and improvement in order to enhance their competence and keep up with the ongoing changes in medicine and psychology. It is up to us, as a society, to produce more and more professionals to do so and provide them with all the necessary knowledge to be the best they can be in their jobs.

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