This course will introduce you to basic considerations regarding the theory and practice of working with older adults in a counselling context - where “counselling” is understood in terms of the broad process of “helping”. In other words, this course does NOT constitute professional training, nor will it lead to certification as a psychotherapist or clinician. Nevertheless, by drawing on readings from fields such as social work, pastoral theology, psychotherapy, gerontology, and particularly narrative gerontology, it will expose you to a range of formal and informal situations, challenges, and issues with counselling implications that you may encounter in working with the elderly. It will sensitize you to the emotional, psychological, and practical needs of older adults and to the stresses, problems, and questions that, as a result, may affect them and their families. In the course, you will review basic gerontological knowledge concerning age-related changes in such areas as cognition, sensory functions, social relationships, and health status that can contribute to their distress. You will also reflect on your own experience as both a helper and a helpee, learn from professionals in the field, and consider a variety of strategies and approaches for working with seniors in a helping role.

Various aspects of aging and health are addressed in this course. Topics considered include: theories of biological aging; normal vs. pathological physical changes that accompany the aging process; various chronic conditions that affect quality of life in later life; the implications of physical aging for medication use and nutritional status among older adults; and the impact of an aging population on the provision of acute care, long-term care, and home care for older adults. Prerequisite: GERO 1013 and GERO 1023.