Adults 65 years and older currently make up around 12 percent of the demographic, both in Australia and the United States, but by 2030 they will comprise a whopping 20 percent of these populations. While some seniors report levels of satisfaction and contentment with life that they did not experience when they were younger, there are also undeniable statistics showing how much more likely people are at the latter end of their life than in middle ages to have some illness or disability which causes chronic pain. In these situations, there is not only the issue of how to manage the actual pain; it is also important to deal with the sense of loss and grief that arises from the pain, restriction, and suffering imposed by it, sometimes including the diagnosis of a terminal condition.
Too, the older person is likely to be in association with other older people and thus more susceptible to loss and grief arising from chronic and terminal illness in others. Finally, there is the issue of increased depression. Although the prevalence of it in community-dwelling elders is said to be between 6 and 20 percent in Australia and the United States, those figures rise to a staggering 48 to 50 percent of the elderly population living in hospitals or residential aged care. Sadly, depression among seniors is often not recognised for what it is, as older health care consumers often present with physical symptoms which mask the depression. These trends will only intensify as the current population of Baby Boomers continues to retire and moves into more extreme old age. Yet some counsellors are hesitant to work with seniors, thus reducing the available pool of mental health helpers for this demographic. This collection looks into the issues counsellors face when working with older adults.
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