You’ve heard all the cliches about ageing. You know the ones – when you get older you’ll be frail and helpless, grumpy and depressed, alone and lonely.
Of course those cliches are rarely true! Older people have well established and enjoyable social and family contacts, and in general have even less depressive or anxious symptoms compared to younger people. Personality doesn’t change through the lifespan and most older people adapt to ageing with humour. After all, it’s the oldies that send around those funny emails about the surprises, the advantages, and the disadvantages of ageing.
But what happens when you are getting older, you actually do feel anxious or depressed, and yet there doesn’t seem to be a logical reason for your feelings?
You may have a lovely home, an adequate income, and caring friends and family. You may feel you have successfully managed your way through life’s difficulties so far. So why do you feel you aren’t coping now? Why are you suddenly finding it difficult to continue ignoring old disappointments or suppressing old tragedies? You are certainly not unintelligent, and you understand that life can be uncertain as you transition through life’s roles. You’ve tried positive affirmations and you’ve given yourself a good scolding using logical arguments. But not much changes.
My clients often tell me that feeling the pain of those old disappointments or tragedies surfacing again is bad enough, but what makes it even worse is that they surface just as life should be easier and more enjoyable.
So what can be done? Some people are able to fill their life with new enjoyable activities and gradually gain a new feeling of successful life management, and that’s a wonderful adjustment. However some people need to see a psychologist to help them through those old distresses. A Psychologist can assist in counselling older clients to help them understand, not suppress, their distress. The objective is to live their life with renewed and real freedom, enjoyment, and success.