The other day ,The Daily Mail reports, the Harrogate conference of the British Psychological Society heard from Dr Oliver Robinson, a lead researcher at The University of Greenwich, that in a survey of 282 people aged 60 or over, 32 per cent of men and 33 per cent of women said they had had a crisis since the age of 60.
At the centre of this later-life crisis for many over 60s is the big question : What is the meaning of life?
Why particularly at this time of life? Is it not stating the blindingly obvious, you may say, that as we become older we fear more, and feel more vulnerable? Illness and isolation become the enemies to be feared, and very often actually endured. There may be loss of family members and friends, or of gainful employment or occupation; physical or mental disability may restrict activity, and a break in connection with the world outside. This is said to be different from the ‘mid-life’ crisis of younger people.
The survey’s findings may perhaps not surprise. For some over 60, the figure of a third may seem rather low. What is there left to do, and where is it all going?
The questions are hugely important,so too is helping to find some answers. The experts conclude that unless the ‘triggers’ of a crisis, for example, bereavement or illness of a loved one, are properly addressed, then a spiral can often develop leading to and accelerating personal decline into physical and meant suffering.
It seems that two or more stressful life events, and the subsequent sense of loss, are likely to raise an acute awareness of mortality and frailty.
In Dr Robinson’s words: “It was important for people in their 60s to recognise the signs and for some to seek help.” It was not something to be ashamed about, either having these experiences or seeking help.”
And the Good News…Overcoming, the crisis can often make life seem even better than before.
Where to go to for help? Obvious immediate answers may be : your general medical practitioner, at first instance, or close family members and friends. In these pages ongoing, we will try to offer some regular and helpful information to help fill the knowledge gap, in what is a large and complex area to cover. If you see in the near future, on the side-bar of this page, an opportunity to sign-up for regular updates and news about what you have just been reading – Do sign-up! There is no cost, and no obligation, your details are treated as strictly confidential and will never be passed on elsewhere.
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