We Will Age, But How Well?
We will all age and we hope to age well; however, we will carry health and mental health issues into that process and may also experience new issues. In his review of The Evergreen Guide: Helping People to Survive and Thrive in Later Years, Alan Swope notes the aging of our population and the lack of preparation to deal with its mental health needs. The Evergreen Guide describes a program, based on efforts initiated in Ireland a decade ago, that focuses on psycho-education designed to promote mental health and successful aging.
Swope highlights the strengths and weaknesses of the book:
The strengths of The Evergreen Guide are its clarity and the applicability of the psychoeducational modules. Its glaring weakness is its lack of any coverage of older adults' sexuality. The sex life of people over 65 seems to be the last taboo of geropsychiatry. (last para.)
The reviewer’s comments point to another area where biases may affect not only the care that we provide, but also our ability to identify concerns that are potentially important to the people we serve. We explore many issues of diversity in our training, but do we pay sufficient attention to aging stereotypes and myths? As a profession, are we doing enough to retain the wisdom of older psychologists, recruit older adults into training programs, and ensure a workforce that reflects the population that we will serve?
Finally, although the The Evergreen Guide considers cross-cultural issues, Swope offers some critique of the coverage. I am led to wonder to what extent we understand issues of aging in diverse communities, particularly the issues of diverse aging in the United States.
By Alan Swope
PsycCRITIQUES, 2014 Vol 59(41)