Ethics and Behavior 19 (2):112 – 128 (2009)
The growing number of older adults in America will result in an increasing demand for psychotherapists familiar with their psychological needs. To treat this population in an ethical manner, practitioners need to be aware of the unique characteristics of the aging process, especially in regards to age-related vulnerabilities, such as cognitive decline. Unfortunately, recent research has shown that those currently in practice do not have sufficient knowledge of the aging process and age specific issues of older adults. To address these deficits the American Psychological Association published a report outlining six general concepts: attitudes, general knowledge about adult development, clinical issues, assessment, intervention, and education. These concepts are described. Furthermore, this article extends the current thinking on ethical issues regarding older adults by addressing their vulnerabilities. In addition, ethical issues such as informed consent, confidentiality, and elder abuse are addressed as they apply to both clinical and research situations. In addition, methods of resolving these important issues are suggested throughout the article. A depiction of the ethical issues of psychologists working with older adults is provided and practical procedures to help psychologists perform with high ethical standards of care for this age group are offered
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