The book examines various theories of aging including a contrast between the strengths-based person-in-environment theory and the pathologically based medical model of psychological problems. It advocates truly engaging with the older client during the assessment phase, and discusses a variety of intervention modalities. The book integrates an advanced clinical social work practice with in-depth knowledge of evidence-based practice as well as geriatric medicine, psychiatry and gerontology. The social worker must evaluate the status of the client’s housing, transportation, food, clothing, recreation opportunities, social supports, access to medical care, kinship and other factors considered important by the social worker or the client. Constructivist theory is a conceptual framework that is foundational to existential therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and narrative therapy, which are effective for older adults. Stigma associated with race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation produce psychosocial stressors that converge on older clients. The book discusses several medical conditions affecting older adults such as Alzheimer’s disease, arthritic pain, diabetes and various types of cancers. Older adults may also suffer from substance abuse-related problems, hypersexuality, and various types of abuse such as neglect. The book also highlights the problems faced by the older adult LGBT community and those suffering from HIV disease. It ends with discussions on care and residential settings for the older adults, and palliative care and euthanasia.
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The importance of the field of geropsychology (psychology of aging) is seen in the ever-increasing demographics of older adults. A psychologist needs to understand the various life stages that define different cohorts of older adults. Older adults are affected by the forces of stigma and ageism, which are of four types: personal, institutional, intentional, and unintentional. A majority of older adults experience age discrimination and stigmatization after the age of 65. The use of medical model of psychopathology causes contradictions and distortions, one of which is the use of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). Assessment of deficits in olfactory functioning are potentially useful for a psychologist who is attempting to differentiate between cognitive disturbances of normal aging and mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Sexual interest remains high throughout old adult developmental stages, but sexual activity declines in most men as they age. While older adults are more likely to avoid illicit substances, many older adults having chronic pain from cancer or arthritis need opioid medications. Older adult abuse is a multifactorial phenomenon as the abuse may be emotional, financial, physical, sexual, or self-induced. Environmental geropsychology is based on Lewin’s field theory model Lawton and Nahemow’s ecological model, and an environmental geropsychologist focuses on the environmental component to develop interventions to change older adults’ interpersonal and intrapersonal experiences. Heightened awareness of coming of death results in an existential crisis for many older adults causing a loss of their sense of purpose for their lives.