Changing Aging, Changing Family Therapy: Practicing with 21st Century Realities

By Yorgason, Jeremy | Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, January 2013 | Go to article overview

Changing Aging, Changing Family Therapy: Practicing with 21st Century Realities


Yorgason, Jeremy, Journal of Marital and Family Therapy


Peluso, P. R., Watts, R. E., & Parsons (Eds.) (2013). Changing aging, changing family therapy: Practicing with 21st century realities. New York, NY: Routledge, 279 pp., $52.95.

Peluso, Watts, and Parsons, along with several chapter authors, offer a contemporary approach to examining aging issues that often arise in family therapy. This easily read publication is timely, as the Baby Boomers started to turn 65 in January 201 1 . With over 70 million individuals comprising this cohort (U.S. Census Bureau, (n.d.)), marriage and family therapists are sure to see an increase in the number of older clients in the years to come.

As an edited volume, several chapters are written by leading experts who address relevant and cutting-edge aging issues. The first two chapters, which introduce the reader to aging and family therapy literature, provide a nice overview of what research has been done and offer a post-modern and narrative approach to working with aging families. The book then proceeds into several "aging content" chapters focused on the following potential clinical situations:

* Chapter 3 addresses the general challenges facing "grandfamilies," or families in which grandparents are providing custodial care for their grandchildren. A useful vignette is included, and demographic information is shared. A brief therapy application is included.

* Chapter 4 focuses on caring for a loved one with dementia and provides an excellent update on relevant family concerns including understanding changes that occur with dementia, how caregivers are influenced, and how family interactions change when a spouse or aging parent has dementia. Practical therapy solutions grounded in clinical experience and research are provided.

* Chapter 5 speaks about age-related physical health changes, as well as to how these changes are linked with mental health. This chapter features a section on depression in later life and provides some excellent tips for engaging older adult clients.

* Chapter 6, which focuses on sexuality and intimacy, provides a sensitive guide for helping older clients address sexual concerns. Clinicians may benefit from (a) the self-of-the therapist reflective questions, (b) the discussion that distinguishes health-related sexual concerns from relationship-related ones, and (c) various clinical recommendations.

* Chapter 7 provides an excellent application of working with older couples. Framed within a clinical vignette, the authors review physical and mental health challenges faced by one spouse in the marriage. …

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