Counseling the Elderly
When counseling, one will find that the age group they counsel for will determine many of the issues that commonly become important during sessions. Each age group psychologically has a mental list of needs, achievements, and goals. If those goals are not met, certain age groups react to these “failures”. It is important as a counselor to see the common themes that pertain to each age group and to guide each patient through their age related dilemma. In the end, all ages should reflect on Christ.
The later years should be the most blessed. It is a gift and blessing from God to reach an older age. Correlating with greater age should be the blessing of family, wisdom, and security, however, in many cases some or all of this lacks. In replacement, we see individuals who fight age, who do not grow in wisdom and who physically degenerate. In accepting the good with the bad, a Christian ages with dignity and respect and should become an example and a leader of the community that the youth look to for guidance and wisdom. Only through good life and faith in God can one morally become a paradigm for the Christian community. As an elder of the community, one should be giving wisdom and guidance to others while preparing him or herself for the next life. Unfortunately this is not always the case as noted and Christian counselors are needed to help the elderly adjust. Even a morally sound soul will encounter challenges of age but with Christ all is possible. With Christ, the elderly can age with dignity and accept their crosses and set a good example for the following generation.
As the one enters the twilight of their existence many things change. Adjustment and acceptance is the key to aging with Christian dignity. The new role played should be accepted with joy despite the loss of previous roles. The primary adjustment, however, is loss. While all of the primary caregivers of one’s youth are gone, the loss of other peers and friends become evident; even the loss of a spouse or a brother or sister become annual affairs. This forces the elderly to face death squarely in the face and answer the existential question of what comes after life on earth. If one is accepting of their new role and secure in Christ, such questions are not as daunting, but regardless, the psychological effect of death is real and apparent. Christian counselors should help the elderly face these questions and help strengthen their faith and hope in Christ. They should also encourage the elderly to take an active role as spiritual mentors and elders to the youth to help re-energize their purpose in life. Many elderly are retired or physically incapable of past tasks. A Christian counselor can greatly give new meaning and purpose to the elderly by creating new and important roles. By giving the elderly a sense of purpose, one can combat loneliness or loss of self esteem.
In addition to adjustment and acceptance, Christian counselors should also be aware of some of the following problems that the elderly may face. First, a counselor should be very aware of physical changes and how those physical changes affect the person emotionally, mentally and spiritually. The second problem is economic issues. Many elderly lack financial means to carry on. The social security check is sometimes all they have to make it month from month. These issues, compounded with physical decline, loneliness, loss of a spouse and lack of self esteem, can become overbearing on the elderly. In this regard, the elderly need to be given hope, love, and companionship. They need to be visited and cared for. This is the duty of the church and the counselor.
In conclusion, scripture speaks of the elderly as sources of wisdom. As a younger population, we must give respect and honor to the previous generations contributions to society, however, if we do not care for their spiritual, mental and physical needs, their wisdom will be lost. If you are interested in the program, please review the Christian Counseling Program.
If you would like to become certified as a Christian Counselor, then review.
By Mark Moran, MA