JFS Perspectives

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

The Changing Dynamic of Counseling for Older Adults



The Changing Dynamic of Counseling for Older Adults

Throughout my almost 20 years as a licensed clinical social worker, I have had the honor of providing counseling services to older adults and, at times, their families. Traditionally, our counseling services for older adults have offered support and expertise around life transitions that come with aging, which may include grief, loss, social isolation, sadness, depression, and/or anxiety. We are eager to support our clients through these valid challenges.

In recent years, however, as some of our clients are living longer—either because of good health or increased health care interventions and options—the concerns that cause them to seek counseling support have become more varied and complex.

For our clients in their late 60s and older who are in good health, their concerns have included how to cope with a troubled marriage or becoming divorced or widowed. Some are struggling with how to approach dating (including online dating) at this point in their lives after decades of marriage, and evolving life-stage priorities. There has been a lot of life already lived, which creates unique challenges in terms of how to integrate existing family members and social networks, assets and liabilities, and serious consideration of whether legal marriage is a wise choice and if not, how to creatively express and live out their commitment to one another.

For others, it may be the desire to reenter the workplace, addressing issues at their current workplace, or how to successfully navigate the transition to retirement.

Folks in this demographic may also be addressing caring for a terminally ill adult child or their 97-year-old parent dealing with late onset Alzheimer’s. On a lighter note, I once had a client who found himself wishing his 98-year-old father would stop giving him advice on being a senior!

Some of our older adult clients are experiencing a serious health issue, and sometimes multiple health issues. Their concerns in counseling include needing emotional support to stay in their home as long as possible, either on their own, with a partner who is well, or with a partner who is also in decline. They are dealing with the depression and anxiety that can come with illness and need a place to explore their hopes and fears around end-of-life and the dying process; how to communicate their wishes to their family, friends, and medical care team; and when to consider hospice care.

These are some of the concerns that our Senior Solutions Center counseling services can assist clients and their families in addressing. Each client brings unique life experiences and concerns and it is our honor to support them in individualized and creative ways. For more information on our services please contact Hannah Nusz, central intake specialist, at 720.248.4701 or hnusz@jewishfamilyservice.org.

 

Jennie CreaseyBy Jennie Creasey, LCSW, Jay and Rose Phillips Senior Solutions Center Operations Manager
Jennie L. Creasey, LCSW, who later this year will be celebrating 20 years of service to Jewish Family Service, is the operations manager of the Senior Solutions Center and provides consulting and counseling services to older adults and their families.

 

 

 


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