8 topics that older people may explore in therapy

Are you an older person thinking about reaching out to a psychotherapist? If so, you will be one of the growing number of people in this age group who are attending therapy. This article explores some of the common themes that older people face and may benefit from exploring with a psychotherapist.


1. Loss of career and difficulties transitioning into retirement

After a lifetime of climbing the career ladder and spending so much time at work, it is a big change to adapt to the idea of retirement. You may find it difficult to have so much free time and wonder how you are going to fill your day in a meaningful manner. Finishing work can result in losing part of your identity and you might miss spending time with your work colleagues.

Many people feel that once they finish work they lack purpose in their lives and have to go through a period of adjustment while they adapt to a new way of life. Your relationship with your partner may also change due to spending more time at home together.

2. Money worries

Money worries are common among older people as they make the transition from earning a monthly wage to living on their pension. You may be concerned about maintaining your quality of life if your monthly income drops, or you may be anxious about your ability to pay for essential items such as rent, food and heating.

3. Children growing up

As children grow up and leave home, the dynamics of family life change. Instead of being a parent who looks after your children, suddenly they are now adults who are making their own way in the world. This ‘empty nest syndrome’ can leave you with complex emotions ranging from sadness and grief, to feeling isolated and lacking purpose in your life.

4. Caring for grandchildren

You may now be a grandparent who is facing pressure to look after your grandchildren while their parents go to work. It can be difficult to balance the conflicting demands of caring for the younger generation whilst also having time for yourself. You may feel under pressure to help out more often than you would like to, and this can be a strain on your physical and emotional well-being.

5. Divorce

When the children have flown the nest and you are left alone with your spouse, you may find that you no longer wish to be together. Divorce in older people is increasing, and the concept of separating and starting a new life and relationship when you are older can be daunting.

6. Death of friends and family

We will all suffer inevitable bereavements throughout our lives, and at some point, we will lose our parents. However, as we get older, we may also have to face the death of a spouse. It can come as a huge shock to suddenly find yourself without a partner after many years together. You may need support to come to terms with the bereavement, but also in learning to navigate through a new way of life without your partner.

7. Loss of health

As our bodies age, our health can start to deteriorate. Common health problems in older people can include arthritis, heart disease, cancer, diabetes and sight problems to name but a few. Older people may have to adapt to both the physical changes in their bodies but also accept that they may lose some of the independence of their youth, and might have to start relying on others for the first time in their adult lives. This change from being fully independent to increasingly dependent can be difficult to manage.

8. Loss of looks

We all change physically as we get older. Your hair will gradually become grey, your skin will lose the tightness of youth, you may put on or lose weight. Inevitably, as the years go by your appearance will change. This can make some people feel anxious and self-conscious, and raise questions about body image.

If you are experiencing any of the issues above, you may find that a therapist can help you in exploring and understanding your difficulties. Being able to process and mourn past losses can help you to gain a new perspective and move forwards in life.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Basingstoke, Hampshire, RG23 8PY
Written by Isobel Brooks, BSc, MSc, MBACP (Accred)
Basingstoke, Hampshire, RG23 8PY

Isobel Brooks is a Psychodynamic Psychotherapist working in private practice in Basingstoke. (www.talkingroots.co.uk). She offers both face to face and online sessions. Isobel also works part-time for Basingstoke Counselling Service.

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