Talking openly about mental health has become normalized with today’s younger generations. If you’re in your fifties or sixties, you may remember a time when emotional stress was treated like a big secret, and therapy was seen as something only for people in the most dire situations.
If you’re considering giving therapy a try for the first time later in life, I really commend you for challenging that way of thinking! Therapy can be a very meaningful experience at this stage of life – this article goes over just a handful of the areas where meeting with a therapist may be beneficial.
Guidance through life transitions
As you get older, you may reach certain milestones that are meaningful to you, like retiring from your career or seeing your children become independent adults. These accomplishments are exciting, but they are also big changes.
How will you spend your time now that you’re not going to work every day? Will your children miss you as much as you miss them (or, are you finding yourself surprisingly relieved to be able to focus on yourself)? If you are partnered, do you and your partner still know who each other are now that the distractions of career and childcare are gone?
You are not alone in facing these dilemmas – many people experience them, but are reluctant to talk about it because they think they should be able to handle “normal” life changes. Therapy can be the confidential space you need to reflect on these challenges in a nonjudgmental atmosphere.
Support adjusting to physical and medical changes
Aging brings changes to the body – you might start to notice you move slower than you used to, it’s not as easy to recall memories, or your skin looks and feels different. If you are used to thinking of yourself as athletic or sharp or youthful-looking, these changes can affect your sense of who you are.
New realities like wearing glasses full-time or daily medication regimens might be necessary, but also serve as uncomfortable reminders of getting older. You may find that some people make unfair assumptions about your capabilities based on the changes they can see – like if you’re taking medication then you must be frail, or if your eyesight is worsening then you can’t take care of things for yourself.
Therapy is a place where you can acknowledge the changes you’re going through, and get help coping with any and all emotional reactions you have towards them. Your therapist can also support you in affirming your capacities, and in challenging any inaccurate stereotyping about older adults you may experience.
Grief is a part of life, and will inevitably emerge in response to losses such as divorce, moving away and saying goodbye to a community, or the death of a loved one.
Ending a partnership or marriage, whether or not by choice, not only removes a person who was once a fixture in your life – it also removes the hopes, dreams, and assumptions you once had for that relationship and your future.
Moving away from a place or community where you felt very connected can leave you with a sense of loneliness, even if you try to maintain some type of relationship with what you left behind.
The death of someone you care about, whether it be of a parent, another family member, or a friend, is something you can never be fully prepared for, and yet these losses become more common as you and the people in your circle get older.
Even though loss and grief are natural, that does not make them easy. You can get some extra care from using therapy as a tool as you go through the highs and lows of the healing process.
Insight and healing can happen at any age
There are plenty of things happening in your life that aren’t necessarily directly related to your age. You might find yourself considering therapy for a challenge an adult of any age might go through.
You may be tired of riding the rollercoaster of your high and low moods, and want to look for ways to react to life differently. You may finally be ready to face those questions you have about your sexuality. You may have been hurting about ways you were mistreated as a child or young person for a very long time, and want to find a way to be heard and understood.
It is not too late to build new emotional skills, learn about yourself, and experience healing. Take the first step and click the button below to schedule a complimentary phone consultation. I’d be happy to learn more about what’s bringing you to give therapy a try, and talk about how we might work together.