It’s not uncommon for adult children to watch their elderly parents struggle to adjust to the effects of aging and all the changes that life brings. While it’s common to attend to an elderly loved one’s physical needs as they age, often their mental health is overlooked. Seniors who are facing a range of issues, from grief and loss to loneliness and declining abilities can really benefit from attending therapy with a trained professional. However, many elderly people reject mental health treatments due to social stigmas.
Society Stigmatizes Mental Health Treatment
The stigma attached to mental illness is a huge barrier that often prevents seniors and others from seeking treatment. It’s not uncommon for seniors to have mental illnesses like depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and more. The decline in physical ability, mental cognition, effects of retirement, loss of mobility, the need for elder care assistance and more can stir up emotions that can bombard an elderly person and trigger mental health issues.
Sometimes, the frustrations associated with the mental and physical effects of aging, losing loved ones and facing death are issues that most people haven’t really thought about until they reach a certain age. Often, mentally healthy seniors are suddenly overwhelmed with issues they never had to deal with before. No matter where it comes from, mental illness can happen at any age, yet seniors are the least likely to seek treatment and often go undiagnosed.
Elderly people often believe in the stereotypes that only people who crazy, dangerous or otherwise deranged seek out therapy. Therefore, they think therapy won’t provide any help for them and that they don’t need it. Too many aging adults believe that talking about problems won’t really fix them and that even if they wanted therapy, their friends and family will think poorly of them. While society has definitely improved in recent decades about mental illness and therapy, there’s a long way to go to erase the stigmas there.
Helping Seniors Embrace Therapy
Family caregivers can help their aging loved ones embrace the ideal of therapy for their mental health in several ways. The first thing they need to share is that mental illness is just like a physical illness and it requires professional help to feel better. Family members may want to share any personal experiences with therapy as well. Creating an atmosphere of acceptance and encouragement is important so that the aging loved one feels comfortable and secure. At no time should family members be judgmental or critical of anyone’s desire to seek therapy.
If seniors are not able to get themselves to a therapy appointment, family members or elder care assistants can provide transportation. The goal is to make therapy appointments as routine as a visit to a doctor’s office for a physical ailment.
It’s never too late for seniors to benefit from therapy for a range of mental health conditions. The first step toward a happy and mentally healthy state for them is breaking down the barriers of societal stigma surrounding treatments.
If you or an aging parent are considering in-home elder care in Goodyear, AZ, please call the caring staff at Assisting Hands Home Care. Serving North Phoenix, Glendale And Surrounding Areas. Call Us 602-362-6610.