Older adults and their family
members/caregivers often encounter new and
challenging psychosocial issues that
accompany aging. As with any stage in the
life cycle, there are adjustments to made and
social and emotional responses that need to
Older adults may face many changes in the
social context of their lives. Retirement is
often the major change. It brings into
question ˝what next?ţ which may be
frightening and confusing. Loss of ones═
peers through relocation and/or death also
occurs. Feelings of abandonment and
loneliness are common. At times, individuals
feel adrift with little sense of purpose to
their lives. They may also face increasingly
poor health that renders them less
independent. The feelings of dependency are
usually unwelcome and may create a sense of
shame and embarrassment.
Emotional responses vary for each individual.
Many, however, experience some type of
depression due to the changes of aging.
There are feelings of sadness, anger, and
fear. Mood swings are often common and
distressing to the person experiencing them
as well to those close to him/her.
Family members of older adults also react to
the changes of aging. Often, the dynamics
and previous balance in the family are
altered. This can be a difficult adjustment
for all concerned, particularly if roles
shift and some family members (particularly
adult children) take on caregiving
responsibilities. Feelings of resentment and
anger may surface. The older adult may feel
like a ˝burdenţ and the caregivers may well
Communication among family members may be
compromised. Painful feelings and responses
are difficult to verbalize and may be ˝swept
under the rugţ. Illness and disability may
present barriers to conversation.
Counseling and support services are often useful in managing these
issues. They can promote more open communication as well as help to
examine alternative solutions to various problems. Various options
are available and may be explored.
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