This book fills a gaping void in the selection of textbooks to use in graduate courses on the psychology of aging. It serves as a primer for any graduate student who is going to work in a clinical setting with older adults, or in a research lab that studies some aspect of the psychology of aging. The book introduces students to the background knowledge needed in order to understand some of the more complex concepts in the psychology of aging. Additionally, it provides clear explanations of concepts (e.g., genetics of aging research, neuroimaging techniques, understanding of important legal documents for older adults). The book focuses solely on older adults, providing in-depth coverage of this burgeoning population. It also provides coverage on cognitive reserve, neurocognitive disorders, and social aspects of aging. The book is intended for graduate students or upper-level undergraduate students in psychology, biology, nursing, counseling, social work, gerontology, speech pathology, psychiatry, and other disciplines who provide services for, or perform research with, older adults. It is organized into four sections. Section I presents introduction to the psychology of aging. Section II gives a core foundation in biological aspects of aging. It covers general biological theories of aging, common physical health problems in older adults, and normal changes that occur to the brain with aging. Section III describes the psychological components of aging such as changes in personality and emotional development, mental health aspects of aging, normal changes in cognitive functioning, cognitive reserve and interventions for cognitive decline, neurocognitive disorders in aging, aging's impact on relationships and families, and working in late life and retirement. The final section presents the social aspects of aging, which includes death, bereavement, and widowhood, aging experience in ethnic and sexual minorities, and lastly, aging and the legal system.
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This chapter discusses several topics relevant to older adults' mental health including access and use of mental health services, prevalence of common mental health diagnoses, assessment of mental health symptoms, and empirically supported treatments for older adults. Although some topics presented in this chapter need additional research focused specifically on an older adult population, several conclusions can be drawn from the material. First, several studies have documented that older adults use mental health services less frequently than other age groups, although it is unclear why this is the case and likely involves a combination of barriers/access to treatment and stigma. Second, several of the mental health problems discussed may present differently among older adults, such as the specific symptoms of depression that older adults endorse. Third, assessment instruments for older adults need to be selected cautiously to ensure that adequate validity and reliability has been established for this population.
This chapter reviews age-related changes in personality and emotional functioning. There are several theoretical approaches to studying personality, and most of them have examined the extent to which the theory applies to older adults. For example, Joan Erikson's proposal of a ninth stage of psychosocial development, as well as ways in which attachment processes may be important in late life, and ways in which coping strategies change with age, all represent the application of existing theories to later life. The chapter focuses on emotional functioning in late life. Overall happiness and life satisfaction tends to increase with age. Older adults also show more effective strategies for regulating emotions, including situation selection and attentional deployment toward more positive features of the situation. Some of these changes can be accounted for through two theoretical models: socioemotional selectivity theory and the strength and vulnerability integration (SAVI) model.
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Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Older Adults With Anxiety and Cognitive Impairment: Adaptations and Illustrative Case Study
Anxiety is a prevalent condition in older adults with neurocognitive disorders such as dementia. Interventions based on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) appear to be an emerging area of treatment innovation for treating anxiety in older adults with cognitive impairment. Drawing on the empirical literature on CBT for late-life anxiety and recent trials of CBT for anxiety in persons with mild-to-moderate dementia, this article provides an overview of the customization of CBT to the needs of older adults with anxiety and cognitive impairment. Adaptations for assessment, case conceptualization, socialization, therapeutic alliance, and treatment strategies are discussed. A case study to illustrate implementation of these adaptations is presented. Limitations to the current state of the literature on the efficacy and feasibility of CBT for anxiety in older adults with cognitive impairment are identified, and future directions for treatment research are proposed.