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date: 13 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Old age brings challenges which affect the process and content of psychotherapy; not that older people should be thought of as being the same, for they are individual. There are particular cohort effects and contexts that might affect the ways in which older people react to stressors in old age. Cognitive impairment and dementia will sometimes be a consideration. Good psychotherapeutic approaches to older people tend to reflect good ethical approaches. These can be described by the main ethical theories: utilitarianism, deontology, and virtue ethics. But a better and more nuanced way is perhaps to use ethical approaches that stress narrative, communication, interpretation, and meaning, as well as care and relationships. These approaches seem more realistic: they accommodate the real situation for the person concerned, recognizing him or her as a situated and embodied agent. This chapter uses vignettes to highlight the usefulness of these nuanced approaches to ethical problems.

Keywords: ageism, communicative ethics, dementia, deontology, ethics, older people, narrative ethics, psychotherapy, utilitarianism, virtues

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