Seniors and mental health – Why it’s never too late for counselling

According to 2016 Census Data, for the first time ever, the number of seniors in Canada is higher than the number of children. As of today, there are 5.9 million Canadian seniors, compared to 5.8 million Canadians aged 14 and under.

Mental health issues don’t discriminate. They can happen to anyone, at any time and at any age. According to the Mental Health Commission of Canada, by the year 2041, seniors will have the highest rate of mental health issues in Canada. Today, one in four seniors already lives with a mental health problem, and as we see the numbers in this population grow, so does the need for adequate and effective mental health services.

seniors and mental health

Many of us look forward to our golden years. There may be opportunities for retirement, to enjoy the next phase in life, and to spend time doing the things we love with the people we love. While this can be true, aging is a natural process and it can present challenges that make the transition more difficult.

In a 2006 report released by the Canadian Coalition for Senior’s Mental Health, data indicated that depression is the most common mental health problem for older adults, with substantial amounts of depression being experienced by 15 per cent of elderly Canadians. Furthermore, rates of depression were even higher in long-term care homes (nursing homes), with 44 per cent of residents having an established diagnosis of depression or three or more depressive symptoms.

At Calgary Counselling Centre, we are committed to providing accessible, professional and affordable counselling to not only seniors, but to all those who need it.

There is a variety of reasons older adults may choose to seek counselling:

  • Coping with the physical and mental effects of aging

  • Coping with Retirement

  • Loss of a loved one

  • Loss of independence

  • Isolation and loneliness

  • Institutionalization

  • Abuse (domestic, financial and emotional)

  • Unresolved grief

  • Anxiety

  • Loss of control

  • Loss of self-identity

  • Uncertainty of the future

It is becoming more common for seniors to acknowledge the need for and benefits of counselling. No one, young or old should have to cope with their mental health issues alone.

At Calgary Counselling Centre we’ve seen the number of requests for counselling for seniors correspond with the increased number of seniors in the general population. Last year, 3.5 per cent of Calgary Counselling Centre’s clients were aged 60 to 69, and 0.8 per cent were 70 or older, totaling 154 senior clients. These numbers are up from 2015, in which we saw 2.8 per cent of clients aged 60-69, and 1.5 per cent being 70 years old or higher.

Although we’ve seen an increase in the number of seniors seeking counselling, there are still those who are hesitant to receive counselling based on a variety of factors or barriers, including:

  • Feelings of embarrassment

  • Feelings of shame

  • Belief that they have gone this long without counselling, so why start now?

  • Generational stigma towards counselling

  • Absence of past support

  • Sexual history or orientation

We asked one of our counsellors, Dana Walliser, Registered Provisional Psychologist about her experience working with seniors. “I believe seeking counselling services is one of the most brave and commendable things any individual can do. Age has no limits when it comes to learning about ourselves. Counselling may provide an elderly individual to further develop an understanding of their own thoughts, behaviors, emotions, values, decision-making skills, and how they communicate these parts of themselves to the important people in their lives.”

There may also be instances where accessibility issues may deter someone from seeking counselling.

At Calgary Counselling Centre we are committed to providing the best counselling treatments, with no waitlist and no financial barriers. This means you are able to get the help you need, when you need it.

In addition, we understand some clients may need specific assistance. At Calgary Counselling Centre we engage with our clients to determine what they need to make their counselling experience a positive one.

Here are some of the things we can offer to accommodate our clients:

  • Assistance throughout the intake process

  • Verbal Outcome Questionnaires

  • Exposure therapy, which is when our counsellor’s create a safe environment in which to expose their clients to feared objects, activities, or situations they avoid

  • Sliding fee scale

  • Acknowledging and accommodating a variety of disabilities including vision and hearing impairment.

  • Wheelchair and walker access

It’s never too late to make your mental health a priority. Getting help is the first step.

To register for counselling or to learn more about our services, call 403-691-5991 or click here to schedule an appointment with a counsellor today.

Nick Heer