Aging and Aging Parents



What Are the Unique Challenges Of Aging & How Can Geriatric Counseling Help?

Geriatric counseling can help ease the stress of aging.

Aging can involve gaining wisdom, enjoying family without the burden of parenting, enjoying free time during retirement, rejuvenating a formerly child-focused marriage – and a number of other wonderful things!

Most of us, however, think of grief and loss when we think of aging. Losses such as

Death of friends and family

Loss of youthful energy
Losing that youthful glow
Stepping away from a career
Living on a reduced income
Losing a sense of significance formerly gained through family or work
Health changes

What are some common psychological effects of aging?

Depression is common in an aging population. The things that used to give us joy just aren’t available anymore. Geriatric depression can present with grumpiness, sleep changes, loss of interest in formerly stimulating activities, flat affect, loss of hope, thoughts of death and dying and weight changes. Treating geriatric depression can be complex. Often family therapy is helpful, as are alternative therapies such as yoga therapy, meditation, EMDR and grief and loss therapy can also help. A referral to a geriatric psychiatrist is sometimes necessary for severe depression.


Anxiety and fear are common experiences during the aging process. Fears about potential losses can be prominent, as can fears of the unknown: death and dying, loss of spouse, loss of health. Geriatric anxiety can present as fear of falling, agoraphobia, reduced appetite, unwillingness to take risks that would formerly have been manageable.

Adjustment Disorders
Aging is one long, ongoing adjustment. Everything from a life-long career coming to an end, to changes in family composition and associated relief or loneliness.

Marital Issues
Some marriages that have previously held together “for the sake of the kids” deteriorate rapidly when there’s nothing to divert attention away from the poor health of the marriage. Marital dissatisfaction and sometimes divorce can be a surprise effect of aging. Marriage counseling can help tremendously. Many times, counseling at this stage is the first time problems in the marriage are fully and effectively addressed.

Dementia can be confusing for everyone. What’s the difference between dementia and simple forgetfulness? We all forget where our keys are occasionally. Forgetting what they are FOR or forgetting that you own a car or shouldn’t be driving one — those are signs of dementia. Dementia may require a visit with a geriatric psychiatrist to assess and treat symptoms. Family therapy can also be helpful, as the family adjusts to this emerging new family member.

Symptoms of Alzheimer’s include

Significant memory loss
Difficulty completing formerly simple tasks
Difficulty planning or problem-solving
Confusion about time, places and people
Challenges with special relationships
New problems with words or speaking
Losing things and forgetfulness (beyond the normal scope)
Poor judgment
Withdrawal from work or social activities
Changes in personality

Alzheimer’s is a difficult crisis for the entire family. Care from a geriatric psychiatrist can help with various medical options available. Family therapy can also help in this difficult time.

Everyone ages. It’s a life-long process, starting the day we are born. At some point, the challenges of aging can outweigh the many benefits of getting older. Let our NewPath specialists help you and your family navigate this difficult time.
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