Senior citizens are prone to experiencing mental health challenges due to underlying chronic illnesses, loss of loved ones, and not getting enough interactions or community. According to Pan American Health Organization, at least one in four adults experiences some kind of mental disorder, such as depression, anxiety, or dementia.
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In addition to this matter, two-thirds of seniors that have an underlying mental health challenge don’t receive the necessary treatment for them to get better. As a solution for this overbearing concern of older adults that are struggling with complex mental health challengers, several therapy methods have been developed to help them cope with these issues, conducted by professional therapists with different expertise. In this article, we’ll be discussing some of the Best Mental Health Therapies for Senior Citizens and how to sustain overall better mental well-being for older adults.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Having negative thought patterns and behaviors is a common occurrence for older people, which could definitely contribute to their anxiety and depression. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a standard mental health therapy treatment that could potentially aid this. This form of therapy focuses on helping senior citizens maintain their well-being by identifying negative thought patterns, helping them manage difficult emotions, addressing social isolation, and other ways to combat their cognitive limitations that may be causing mental health problems.
CBT therapists work with older adults to help them develop positive coping strategies and find ways to increase their sense of control over their lives. Through interactive therapy sessions and practical exercises, older adults can learn to challenge negative thoughts, reframe their thinking, and develop a more positive outlook in life. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is an effective way for seniors to manage their mental health and can be conducted individually or in a group setting.
Online Therapy or Teletherapy
With the rapid advancement of technology rises a new method for therapists to connect with their patients remotely. This form of treatment is especially beneficial for older adults who are experiencing mental health difficulties yet don’t have the capacity to personally attend in-person sessions due to lack of access or mobility issues. Having a safe and confidential space to discuss personal matters whenever and wherever they want is highly beneficial for sustaining their healthy mental well-being, and an online therapist can precisely help them achieve that state.
Online therapy is also convenient, as it eliminates the need to travel to a therapist’s office, saving time and money. Additionally, this method offers more flexibility in scheduling appointments, as patients can choose a time that works best for seniors without worrying about transportation or the hassle of setting up therapy sessions.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy
Managing emotions is a key component for senior adults for sustainably healthy mental well-being. One of the most common mental health treatments you may have stumbled upon is Dialectical Behavior Therapy, a form of evidence-based treatment that helps seniors navigate relationships, increase motivation, and improve self-awareness to better handle day-to-day challenges in life.
With this type of treatment, seniors will be able to develop practical and useful skills to help them regulate their emotions, especially when dealing with stressful situations. DBT also aims to improve patients’ interpersonal communication by incorporating mindfulness techniques and other coping mechanisms that helps them build resilience and lead a much more fulfilling life.
Another effective way to promote a positive mood and reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression for older adults is through Music Therapy. As strange as it may sound, rhythms and instruments can actually help relaxation, and cognitive function and can be an ideal form of therapy for seniors. Whether it’s through individual sessions or group settings, music therapy can be tailored to each patient’s needs and preferences.
It has been shown to positively impact emotional well-being and physical health, such as improving sleep quality, reducing pain, and enhancing the overall quality of life. Music therapy can also provide seniors with a sense of accomplishment and joy as they learn to play instruments or sing along to their favorite songs. Overall, music therapy is an unorthodox yet highly effective way to promote positive mental health for seniors.
Loneliness is one of the main drivers of various mental health issues for older adults. Meanwhile, an unconventional yet effective form of treatment to combat this is through a loving pet that can provide companionship and a sense of purpose that can effectively alleviate depression, anxiety, and loneliness. Pet therapy can take many forms, including pet ownership, visitation, and animal-assisted therapy, all of which have been shown to be beneficial to seniors’ overall mental and physical well-being.
Having someone they are responsible for gives them a purpose and indirectly gives them a more structured daily routine, physical activities, and much less stress than ever. Visiting with pets can improve social interactions and provide a sense of comfort and joy. Meanwhile, animal-assisted therapy also gives emotional support and companionship to older adults that can help them cope with challenging times.
Reminiscence therapy is a type of treatment that helps seniors recall and share their memorable life experiences. This therapy capitalizes on the positive benefits of remembering good old times, such as improving mood, cognitive function, and overall well-being.
Therapists can conduct this treatment method by doing several activities, such as looking at old photos, listening to music, or talking about past events with their loved ones or with a trained professional. Reminiscence therapy is especially beneficial for seniors with dementia as it helps combat cognitive decline and helps them maintain their sense of identity and self-worth. By promoting positive emotions and reducing feelings of loneliness and isolation, Reminiscence therapy can help seniors live more fulfilling and satisfying life in their golden years.
Laughter therapy, also known as humor therapy, is another effective treatment for improving mental well-being for all ages, especially for older adults. This form of treatment stimulates the release of endorphins, which are natural chemicals in the brain that promote feelings of happiness and well-being, making them act as natural painkillers and helping reduce physical pain or discomfort. Laughter therapy is implemented in various ways, whether through jokes, interactive games, storytelling, funny videos, comedy shows, and other ways to evoke laughter and positive emotions.
It also helps develop socialization and belongingness while sharing laughter among other seniors when the therapy conducted in a group setting. Laughter therapy is considered a low-risk and non-invasive form of treatment that can easily be incorporated into their day-to-day living yet shows highly effective results for improving overall mental health. Laughter is truly the best medicine when coping with distress and difficult life challenges.
These mental health programs for senior citizens are designed to help them maintain a sustainable mental state and an overall positive outlook on life. By providing various support services, such as counseling, therapy, and group activities, these programs help seniors cope with aging challenges and maintain their quality of living.
From behavioral therapy to interactive treatment methods, these programs offer a range of exercises that can help seniors stay mentally and physically fit. With the proper support, seniors can enjoy their golden years with confidence and resilience, knowing they have the tools they need to maintain stable mental health.