Benefits of Counseling for Seniors and Older Adults

Medically reviewed by: Rachel Hughitt, MS
Monday, October 5 2020

If you were born in the 1950s, you may have been counseled with sayings such as: “grin and bear it,” “tough it out,” or “rub some dirt on it.” And while this generation is famous for its tough “can do” exterior and “do it yourself” attitudes, there are several reasons people over the age of 60 should pay attention to their mental health and reach out for help if they need it. 

Therapy can benefit people of all ages- including seniors. SonderMind can help aging individuals connect to a licensed therapist who meets their unique needs and preferences, while also providing evidence-based support to help them see change, faster. 

Here’s more on the benefits of counseling for seniors and how you can stay mentally healthy as you age. 

The importance of senior mental health 

Stressful events and challenging situations arise throughout life. Unfortunately, this doesn’t stop once we hit a certain age. In fact, older populations can face new and added stressors that can negatively affect their mental health. Some common stressors that may contribute to mental health concerns for older people include: 

  • A significant ongoing loss in abilities and functioning such as reduced mobility, chronic pain, or other health problems
  • Loss of loved ones 
  • A drop in socioeconomic status or increased financial stress due to retirement and being on a fixed income 
  • An increased vulnerability to elder abuse — including physical, verbal, emotional, psychological, financial, and sexual abuse

All of these stressors can result in isolation, loneliness, or psychological distress in older people, leading to not only poor mental health but poor overall health. This is because your mental and physical health are strongly connected. In fact, older adults with physical health conditions such as heart disease have higher rates of depression than those who are healthy.

If you’re an older adult and struggling with a mental health concern, know that you’re not alone — approximately 15% of adults aged 60 and over suffer from a mental disorder. The good news is help is available. Read on to learn more about how therapy can benefit your mental health and overall well-being as you age. 

Is therapy and counseling effective for older people?

The short answer is: yes. Research shows that older adults actually respond better to psychological therapy than working-age adults. Therapies that have been considered effective for older people include: 

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): This therapy helps you identify unhelpful thoughts and behaviors. Your therapist will then work with you to shift those thoughts and behaviors so they align with your therapy goals and overall well-being.
  • Problem-solving therapy: This therapy through problem-focused coping helps you think through and solve problems that are contributing to your mental health concerns, helping you develop a sense of autonomy and control in certain aspects of your life. 
  • Reminiscence therapy: The main focus of this therapy is to reminisce about good things and discuss memories, smells, and other senses you’ve experienced during good times in your life. This helps remind you of happy times, boosting your mood and helping to improve symptoms of depression

These forms of talk therapy are effective for various mental health concerns in older adults, including sleep disorders, anxiety, and depression. Moreover, talk therapy can help you feel more present, engaged, and active in your life. 

7 benefits of therapy and counseling for seniors

Therapy offers many advantages for older adults — it provides you with a time to focus entirely on yourself and what you are experiencing. A licensed therapist is a great listener who can help you gain perspective, think differently about the world around you, develop coping skills, and approach the things that are contributing to poor mental health from a healthier and more productive point of view. Counseling can benefit seniors and help them: 

  1. Improve emotional support and well-being
  2. Enhance coping skills and stress management
  3. Improve relationships
  4. Deal with grief, loss, and life transition support 
  5. Reduce loneliness and isolation 
  6. Manage chronic health conditions and pain
  7. Prevent cognitive decline

There’s even more good news about therapy for older adults: old stereotypes of “couch sessions” with therapists and sessions that cost a lot of money and continue on for years aren't today's reality. 

Nowadays, therapy is a collaborative relationship between you and your therapist. When you see a SonderMind therapist, you’ll work together to decide your therapy goals and treatment plan to help you reach those goals. You play an active role in your care, so you can get the most out of therapy. What’s more? How long you’re in therapy is unique to your individual goals and what you want to achieve, but know that it doesn’t necessarily take years for therapy to work. In fact, SonderMind clients have seen results in less than six sessions. 

SonderMind therapists also offer in-person or video telehealth sessions, so if you don’t want to travel to a therapist’s office for a session, you don’t have to. Some SonderMind therapists may be in-network with many major insurance companies, including Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans, depending on your state and plan benefits. So affording care is easier than it may have been in the past. 

How can seniors and older adults stay mentally healthy?

In addition to seeking professional mental health support, consider trying out these practical tips and strategies for maintaining and improving your mental health as you age: 

  • Foster social connections and maintain a support system. Plan regular get-togethers with family and friends and consider taking part in social activities in your community such as attending workout classes at your local gym, joining  your neighborhood book club, or volunteering at an animal shelter. Haven’t spoken to an old friend in awhile? Give them a call. It can do wonders for your well-being. 
  • Pursue hobbies and activities that bring joy and fulfillment. Do more of what you love — whether it’s cooking, playing with your grandkids, or maintaining a garden. Making time for what matters most to your happiness can give you a great mood boost and keep you mentally healthy.  
  • Practice relaxation techniques and stress reduction. From yoga to breathing exercises to simply taking a walk or chatting with a friend, these acts of self-care can have a significantly positive impact on your mental health and overall well-being. So remember to take time for yourself. 

Benefits of SonderMind therapy for seniors 

Therapy has been proven to be effective for all ages. So no matter how many trips you’ve made around the sun, know that help is available and that you can feel better with mental and emotional support from a licensed mental health professional. If you’re an older adult experiencing a mental health concern and are ready to connect with a therapist, SonderMind can help. 

We’ll help you find someone who’s the right fit for you based on your unique needs and preferences. Just let us know a little bit more about yourself and what you’re looking for, and we’ll connect you with a licensed therapist who you can see within a week, online or in-person, so you can start to feel better and embrace all the good times that await. 

Get guidance throughout your mental health journey.

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