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Online Counseling for Seniors

Goda Brzozauskaite
  • Mar 21, 2022
  • 5 min read
Portrait of senior woman

The life of the elderly can be filled with challenges. 

About 80% of the aging adults experience at least one chronic illness, and 50% experience two or more. These kinds of circumstances increase the risk of developing depression and other mental health disorders.

According to a survey conducted by Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), about one in four adults (24%) ages 65 or older reported anxiety or depression. This rate is higher than the previous findings, and the researchers believe that the pandemic might have led to an increase in mental health disorders.

Moreover, around 55 million people worldwide suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, according to the World Health Organization. Exposure to high levels of stress and mild cognitive impairment increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s by 135% as a person grows old. 

Grief, memory problems, and diminishing levels of independence are also common as people age. Not everyone can cope with them easily. Luckily, therapy can help anyone struggling with mental health or life changes. 

Geropsychology is a specific branch of psychology focusing on helping adults overcome particular problems that occur with aging and teaching them how to achieve complete comfort and potential during later life.

However, the global pandemic made it quite challenging to leave your home, especially for seniors. As a result, those who needed help might now struggle alone. 

That’s where online counseling for seniors can help. Remote therapy can offer continuous, sometimes even daily, support from the comfort of your home. Online therapy services even connect you with a licensed therapist without you needing to search for them. 

In this article, we will look at how online counseling for seniors works.

What Does Online Therapy Look like?

Online therapy for seniors works just like in-person therapy. A senior and a therapist communicate and search for ways to overcome emotional challenges, improve mental well-being, and cope with problems. 

They can communicate via video or audio sessions and chat daily via messages. While most therapy providers offer to download a mobile app, those who prefer to use the computer can always text their therapist from there. 

At first, a therapist will learn about the problem you are dealing with. Later on, they can either work on solving them while focusing on the present situation and solutions or look deeper and touch upon existential issues and establish close and healing relationships with you.

All this depends on the approach the therapist uses. Many therapists combine different methods to offer the most optimal help.

What Problems Can Therapy Help With?

Online therapy for seniors focuses on the problems the elderly can experience. It can help adapt to the changes experienced during aging, retirement, finding new meaning and hobbies, as well as new connections. 

Therapy can also help with mental health struggles such as:

If you are feeling low but not sure if you should try therapy or want to know if your loved one needs help, look for these signs:

  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Persistent sadness
  • Not wanting to leave home or isolating yourself
  • Constant worry
  • Lost of interest in doing activities you like
  • Sudden increase or decrease of appetite
  • Loss of sleep or sleeping for too long
  • Trouble concentrating
  • A sense of dread
  • Headaches and confusion
  • Irrational thoughts

These are the symptoms of depression and anxiety in seniors. If you think you are experiencing them, it’s better to seek therapy. 

Benefits of Online Therapy

The benefits of online counseling for seniors make it at least on par or even better than in-person therapy.

  • No need to leave your home. As mentioned earlier, you can engage in online therapy from anywhere. You don't have to worry about traveling to your therapist's office, and it’s especially beneficial for the elderly with mobility difficulties. Online therapy makes in-home counseling for seniors much more affordable and simple. 
  • Safety. The current pandemic situation made it dangerous to travel and interact with people. As therapists’ profession includes meeting a lot of different people during the week, meeting with them online is the safest way to get help.
  • Availability. Seniors living in rural areas might have limited access to qualified therapists. Online therapy allows you to connect with therapists all around your state or even country. 
  • Affordability. Online therapy can cost less than in-person therapy. Some types of online therapy are covered by insurance, while others offer low rates without insurance, so make sure you figure it out before choosing the provider. 
  • Might be less embarrassing. Some people don’t like the idea of receiving mental help out of fear that somebody will figure that out. Online counseling offers a maximum level of confidentiality, and some therapy providers even offer anonymity. It can help some people to be more open about their problems.

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Things to Consider Before Starting Online Therapy

Some seniors might be intimidated by the different aspects involved in online counseling:

  • New technology can be intimidating. Online counseling involves using a website and an application. New processes might be confusing for some elderly, as they might be different from the communication applications they are used to. However, if you wish to try online therapy, asking someone to help you find the provider and connect with a therapist will simplify the process. These applications often mimic the most common communication apps to offer the highest comfort level. 
  • Your insurance might not cover the expenses. Health insurance plans may not cover online therapy or any mental health services. Some insurance companies have extended their coverage during the COVID-19 pandemic, but not all of them. The insurance companies often have requirements for seniors to receive compensation for therapy. The requirements could be to see a specialist to receive a mental health diagnosis and a treatment plan. After that, the insurance company could cover the expenses.
  • Choosing the preferred way of communication. Most service providers offer messaging and video or audio sessions to connect with the therapist. However, they have different plans that might include no sessions or one session per month. Before choosing the provider, investigate what you will get with different plans.

How to Choose the Best Online Therapy Service

Choose a therapy that is tailored to your needs. If you are experiencing depression but lost a loved one recently, a therapist experienced in bereavement therapy might help you the most. 

You should also make sure that the therapist you are working with has experience with seniors. 

Testimonials are also an important aspect that speaks to the quality of the services of a particular website that offers online counseling. You should check them out to see if seniors benefit from those services. 

Finally, you shouldn’t worry too much about making a wrong decision. If the therapy is not working, you can try something else. In time, you will find out what works for you and stick with that.

Final Words

The life of seniors can be difficult. Chronic illness, retirement, and many changes can cast a shadow on a life that was once beautiful. The global pandemic has not only made our life even harder but also reduced access to mental health support.

But you don’t have to struggle alone. Online counseling for seniors makes it easier to get professional help. It can help with many different challenges and offer you an opportunity to find the right therapist easily. If you are interested in online therapy, we hope that this article gave you a clearer understanding of what to expect.  

And if you don’t know where to start, we will be happy to connect you with a licensed therapist. 

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