Therapy With Older Adults

Working with older adults and assisting those diagnosed with progressive cognitive impairments, such as Alzheimer’s disease or a related condition, have become sub-specialties in Dr. Rochmes’s practice over the past 20 years. In older adults, psychological difficulties faced earlier in life may reappear. More recent experiences associated with aging—life in retirement, declining health, loss of friends and family members, mobility problems, ageism in society, and facing the end of life—may also present psychological challenges.

Depression is especially common among older adults. The condition may be explained away as “normal,” influenced by the erroneous assumption that old age must inevitably be depressing. Depression is not only not normal, it can be treated successfully in many cases. Leaving depression untreated raises the risk of other, associated conditions, such as cognitive impairment.

The difference between treating older and younger clients is that therapy with the former more frequently tends to be shorter-term and problem-focused. In addition, family members and social networks in a caregiving role may more frequently become involved.