Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Britain is no country for many sad old men in a later life crisis

Dr Oliver Robinson from the University of Greenwich recently told the British Psychological Society Conference in Harrogate about his research based on an online survey of 282 old men and women over the age of 60 which found that :

* 32% of the old men and 33% of the old women reported having had a 'later life crisis' since the age of 60 with :
- the most frequent cause being 'bereavement'
- followed by 'illness or injury to themselves or close relatives' 
- and 'caring for an ill or disabled loved one'.

* between 40% and 50% of those who experienced a crisis, emerged feeling more positive about life, setting new goals, appreciating every day and endeavouring to enjoy life more than they did before.

* for about 33% of those in crisis there may have been a decline in their physical and mental abilities, with some ‘retreating from the world', making It more serious than a 'mid-life crisis' because people in their 40s did not usually become withdrawn from the world.

Dr Robinson said it was important for people in their 60s to recognise the signs and for some to seek help and "If you handle it badly it can accelerate your decline. People should not be ashamed of having these experiences – it’s very common – or about seeking help.’ 
He concluded :
"It seems that when loss-inducing events occur together or in close proximity in time, a person's capacity to cope in their sixties is overwhelmed and a later life crisis is precipitated. By better understanding such crisis episodes, psychologists are well placed to understand mental health problems in this age group. They will also be better placed to offer help to promote positive post-crisis growth".

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