Older Adults

Psychology Cares Clinical Services

Older Adults Clinical Services (65+ Years)

At Psychology Cares, we provide specialised clinical services for older adults with a focus on recovery, adaption, optimisation and resilience. Regardless of seeming losses, including that of functioning, which can be stereotypically and  exclusively associated with ageing, our goal is to improve performance and functioning in older adults so they can continue to live a life full of fulfilment, opportunity and growth in spite of impairments and challenges. 

The World Health Organisation reports that the ageing population will double by 2050, therefore it is increasingly important to understand the needs of older individuals [The World Health Organisation, 2023]. Significant life changes during old age, such as losing loved ones or decline in physical health, negatively impact the mental health of older adults leading to high prevalence of anxiety and depression [Pan American Health Organisation, 2023]. Additionally, the stigma surrounding mental health difficulties prevents many older adults from receiving appropriate intervention. 

Working in collaboration with other health services, we ensure the mental health of older adults is never overlooked. As older adults are more likely to experience a number of comorbid physical health conditions, Psychology Cares provides a comprehensive care plan which combines both the mental health and physical health of older adults [Age UK, 2019].

Reviving the Mind: Exploring Neural Rejuvenation and Adaptive Aging

With old age comes cognitive and functional decline. But the human brain is adaptive and resilient. It can develop neural reserves and employ alternative neural strategies to compensate thereby maintaining functional homeostasis and mitigating the risk of disease.  

Of note is the brain’s ability to compensate for cortical atrophy by activating specific neural networks associated with focused attention, thereby preserving essential cognitive functions such as reading ability and working memory functionality. 

Interventions, such as cognitive training and social enhancement demonstrate significant benefits for older adults, leading to improved cognition and mental and physical health. Such interventions have been associated with observable changes in brain structure, as evidenced by neuroimaging techniques. Therapeutic interventions targeting these adaptive mechanisms hold promise not only for combating neurodegenerative disorders but also for mitigating systemic age-related diseases such as cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and metabolic syndrome.

At Psychology Cares, our Centre for Research and Clinical Innovation (CRCI) and neuroscience LifeLab (LiL), with specialist and dedicated clinical research, continue to contribute to the development and improvement of the wellbeing of older adults. We understand the importance of harnessing the brain’s natural resilience and adaptability to promote health ageing and prevent age-related cognitive decline through the integration of psychology, neuroscience, and the natural sciences. 

The ageing brain is not merely a victim of inevitable decline but rather a marvel of adaptation and resilience. By harnessing the power of its adaptive mechanisms, we may unlock new avenues for promoting brain health, extending longevity, and enhancing overall quality of life in our ageing population.

Adaptive mechanisms of brain ageing.
Adaptive mechanisms of brain ageing. Physiologic adaptive mechanisms (inside white circle) and those that can be recruited by lifestyle and therapeutic interventions (outer light red ring) promote stress resistance and functional integrity of the ageing brain. Physiologic adaptive mechanisms include neural network changes, increased synaptic plasticity, and reduced neural excitation, as well as broader metabolic and systemic adaptations that involve vascular function and circulating factors. Genetic factors, such as the protective APOE2 allele, may also engage adaptive mechanisms. Adaptive mechanisms can also be recruited by physiologic and pharmacologic interventions (outer ring). Examples of induced physiologic adaptations are those engaged by lifestyle choices and changes, such as diet and physical activity, caloric restriction, education, mental training, meditation, social interactions, and sleep. Pharmacologic and therapeutic interventions target metabolic, neuroprotective, and inflammatory pathways. Other approaches target senescent cells, blood pressure, and vascular health or mentally stimulate the ageing brain.
Neural adaptations in the ageing brain. (a) Neural network compensatory adaptations preserve neural network homeostasis during ageing. Three broad age-related neural mechanisms of compensation in the ageing brain have been described: (1) Some neural networks can increase activity during ageing, such as the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) that is involved in working memory. (2) Neural networks that are not typically involved in a task can be recruited, such as the recruitment of the rhinal cortex to augment the function of the hippocampus (HPC) in recognition memory. (3) Neural networks can be reorganised in the ageing brain to improve performance. For example, the frontal cortex can become activated bilaterally in aged individuals to perform executive function tasks, in contrast to the unilateral frontal activation pattern that occurs in young individuals. (b) Reducing neural excitation may protect against hyperexcitation and also reduce the trans synaptic spread of misfolded proteins, such as Aβ and tau, which contribute to the pathogenesis of AD. (c) The molecular mechanism of reduced neural excitation in a well-adapted ageing brain may involve the transcriptional repressor REST, which is activated in ageing neurons. AD, Alzheimer disease.

Key Facts for Older Adults Mental Health:

Social isolation and loneliness have a significant negative impact on older people’s physical and mental health as well as their quality of life.

Over 20% of older adults suffer from mental or neurological diseases.

Older adults are more likely to be diagnosed with affective disorders than younger adults.

The quality of interpersonal relationships and social activities significantly affects the mental health of older adults.

In the UK, older adults reported higher levels of happiness compared to middle-aged adults.

Successful ageing is defined as “low probability of disease, high cognitive and physical function, and active engagement with life” - Rowe & Khan 1997.

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Older Adults
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Older Adults
Clinical Care for Older Adults