This article talks about the benefits of in-home counseling for seniors and how to approach it.
How to get in-home Counselling for Seniors
Discussions about the health of the elderly in your house typically focus on the physical aspects of their existence like exercise, daily activities, medications, etc. There is no doubt that these are important topics that need to be taken into consideration while caring for seniors.
But with all the emphasis going to the physical well being, sometimes we tend to neglect the mental components of their health.
This turns out to be a common problem as mental health issues can arise at any age and maintaining a good mental being is critical, even for those who appear to be healthy outwardly.
Why is taking care of the mental well-being of seniors important?
Many seniors tend to live in isolation and thus mental health disorders gain more significance in their lives. Some of them have lost a close loved one or sometimes just feel that they have lost the purpose of their lives.
In addition to this, there is a significant stigma surrounding the idea of mental health. A lot of people do not want to admit that there is something wrong with them and refuse to seek any form of help as a consequence.
When the elderly were young, mental health was not heavily focused in their lives. This makes them particularly stubborn in addressing issues if any. They also try to justify the challenges and symptoms trying to convince themselves that there is nothing unusual or wrong in their situation.
What is in-home counseling?
In-home counseling is also known as home-based therapy. It takes place at the home of the patient instead of the therapist’s office. It is greatly helpful to individuals who are unable to go to the therapist’s office due to multiple concerns like money issues, age, chronic medical issues, etc.
Home-based therapy programs are provided by many Community Health organizations and Private Therapists.
What are the things that should be considered when finding the right therapist for in-home counseling of the elderly?
Finding the right therapist is quite essential to handle the challenges that aging can bring and can improve the relationships in the senior’s life.
In addition to ensuring that the therapist is providing in-home counseling, you should also check on their credentials as well as the comfort level of the patient with the therapist. Before zeroing in on the right therapist, there are few things that you should consider.
Ask for recommendations
If you are not uncomfortable bringing the topic of therapy in front of your family and friends, start your search from them. If any of them have seen someone whom they really trust, their opinion is worth consideration.
The word of someone known to you and who has had direct experience with a specific therapist is definitely a strong recommendation.
You can also look for recommendations from your doctor. Doctors also have therapists that they know of and trust for referring their patients. Checking in with them can also shorten your search duration.
Do not shy away from shopping around
There are chances that you might not find your perfect therapist for the elderly in the first go. The patient might feel that their therapist’s style is not working for them. If they go in for your first appointment and just feel that this is the case for them as well, it is perfectly fine.
Therapists also understand that different individuals seek different things from therapy. They know that they might not be the right fit for every possible patient that comes to them. It is okay to refuse a second appointment and consider the next therapist on the list.
Experiencing an unsatisfactory therapy session does not mean that therapy will not be helpful at all. Do not give up on the whole idea. It is always worth trying again until you are able to find someone that the elderly feel comfortable with.
Contact the top selections for phone consultations
If you have taken the initial steps, you will have a list of possible therapists for the elderly in front of you. You need to do thorough research on each of these names on the list.
On the basis of the online research done by you, start ranking them based on which therapists you feel the elderly would be most likely to want to meet with. You should also keep in mind factors like specific preferences that you might have in terms of age range or gender, etc.
Post this, set up a telephonic consultation with each of these therapists. This will give the elderly a chance to ask them questions and identify if they feel comfortable interacting with them. The therapist would also get an opportunity to learn a little about the patient and see if they sound like a good fit for them.
By the end of the phone consultations, your elderly’s feedback would give you a clear idea on deciding who to set up an appointment with.
Search for therapists in your area that take Medicare
Continuous therapy can turn out to be expensive. As per your financial situation, the cost of therapy can be a big factor for you in deciding which therapist to consider for the elderly.
If you have access to Medicare, you would know that it does cover therapy costs from some of the providers. It would be a good idea, in this case, to specifically look for therapists that accept Medicare.
If you do not have access to Medicare yet, do check with your health insurance provider to figure out what options are available for therapy coverage. A lot of insurance plans cover mental health services which may assist you in getting the costs for your visits completely covered.
There may also be a situation where Medicare or your health insurance plan would not cover the therapist that you consider the best for the elderly. In this case, a lot of therapists tend to offer rates on a sliding scale on the basis of your need.
It may thus be worth looking beyond therapists who are included in your plan, especially in the case where there are not many therapists in your area that are covered by Medicare or your health insurance.
Research for therapists on the basis of their specialties
Therapists also have their own specialties and it would be good to meet a therapist who deals with issues that the elderly is struggling with. Are they dealing with huge stress?
Are they in regular fights with their children or spouse? You can find therapists that specifically deal with issues like pain management, relationships specific concerns, stress management, etc.
It is okay if you are not able to figure out the issues that you would want your therapist to work on. A good therapist can assist you in figuring out what is there that you are not able to find for yourself.
Consider teletherapy as a convenient option, if required
In some cases, you might find the perfect therapist but they might not be available for in-home counseling. In these cases, there is a growing industry of therapy offered over the internet.
Look into services like Talkspace that can match you up with a therapist who will interact with you over the computer. It is understandable that his might not seem like the exact same experience as sitting across the room with a therapist, but it can still turn out to be a fruitful experience.
However, do look into the comfort level of the elderly in interacting with their therapist over a screen in comparison to face-to-face counseling.
What should you expect in case of in-home counseling?
An in-home therapist may be joined in by another therapist who would act as their partner during the treatment. This can provide the elderly in therapy as well as the therapist with additional support and resources. However, not all therapists work in teams.
In-home counseling is generally provided at the kitchen table or in the living room of the client.
The ability to witness the home environment and observe how the other members of the household interact within the home can help the therapists in building good connections easily and quickly. This kind of personalized approach is not easy to achieve in a therapist’s office though.
In-home counseling does not always mean that the therapy sessions will happen only within the confines of your home. These sessions can also take place in other locations. The counselor and the elderly in therapy can decide to have the sessions in a nearby park or discuss the treatment while taking a walk on the beach.
Why do therapists offer in-home counseling?
Home-based therapists understand that it can be difficult for the elderly to be comfortable with therapy at their office. This can be due to multiple reasons like illness, disability, personal crisis, lack of funds, transportation issues, etc. In-home counseling can address many of these challenges for the elderly.
When treatment is offered at home, the relationship between the elderly and the therapist can develop at a faster pace. This is primarily due to the relaxed environment in the home as compared to a therapist’s office.
Also, in such situations, therapists can get deeper insights from seeing how are the elderly interact within their familiar surroundings without relying on self-reporting. This can often lead to more effective treatment and a faster healing process.
The elderly who are homebound can gain significant benefits from in-home counseling. Since they do not visit the therapist’s office, the protection of their privacy is ensured.
In-home counseling makes mental health services much more accessible to a wider range of seniors. It can also turn out to be less expensive than traditional therapy at the office.
What are some challenges that can be faced in the case of in-home counseling?
In-home counseling sometimes leads to ethical concerns about boundaries, confidentiality, or role confusion. Factors that are considered beneficial for the treatment like observing the family in action can also make the treatment a bit of a challenge.
Role confusion can occur in various ways. A therapist is like a guest in the patient’s home and might be unsure about how to treat the person in therapy in their familiar surroundings.
They may also have difficulty maintaining the focus of the session considering common distractions like an active dog, a fussy grandkid, or other distractions. If other family members are present in the house, it may be difficult to maintain confidentiality during the session. For the elderly, they might not be able to speak openly.
Finances should also be a consideration when considering in-home counseling. For instance, should the cost of travel for the therapist be included in the cost of treatment?
Should the therapist stop the clock or just keep it going in case of a distraction coming up during the session? These concerns should be addressed well before the initiation of the treatment.
In addition to this, some patients may not be a good candidate for in-home counseling. They may feel uncomfortable in their own home to open up to a stranger. Some patients may also act volatile and difficult to control.
They may try to override the therapist during the sessions as they feel more empowered just because the session is happening in their home.
While therapy can make a huge difference in the life of the elderly, it is important to maintain realistic expectations from the process. The changes that you would be hoping for in the life of the elderly will take time and work both.
However, with the help of a skilled professional, it will become easier to start down the path of making their life better and a lot more productive. If you think in-home counseling is right for the elderly in your home, meet with a therapist who practices it, and find out how to proceed for the same.
Deciding on when and how will these in-home therapy sessions take place will happen after discussions between the patient and the therapist.
You may also like to read about: How to Start a Daycare Centre for the Elderly