Why More Seniors Should Try Online Relationship Counseling

Dawn Ferera
Updated on April 9, 2024

Falling in love is easy. Staying in love is harder. So, when we see a couple who has been together for many years, decades even, it’s easy to assume they have a rock-solid commitment and a fulfilling marriage. What’s actually going on, though, may be very different.

senior citizens in a relationship

Senior couples, like all couples, experience relationship issues. Relationships change over time and each stage of life brings with it its own set of challenges. That being said, senior couples, despite making up the largest growing segment of the population, are generally underrepresented in couple’s counseling.

Why It’s Important to Seek Help

The natural course of aging can place a strain on even the strongest of relationships. Below are just a few of the common challenges experienced by seniors that impact their relationships:

  • Lifestyle changes like retirement, illness, or a move can disrupt long-standing patterns of daily life. This is especially true if the changes are sudden and unexpected.  
  • Spending more time together nearby, post-retirement, can create discomfort or conflict and bring to the surface relationship problems that may have previously been unaddressed or weren’t as obvious.
  • With divorce becoming more accepted, as well as changing gender roles, midlife divorce (or later on in life) is becoming more common.
  • With people living longer, many seniors find themselves single again and venturing into new relationships. They’re learning how to date and be with someone new.
  • Many seniors are in second or even third marriages and may be dealing with issues related to blending families or combining households. 
  • They may be taking on the role of caregiver for their spouse as many seniors opt for home care.

The quality of a relationship has been directly linked with overall general health and well-being. Seniors who report the highest levels of marital satisfaction also report better quality of health. Conversely, those with lower levels of marital satisfaction have been found to have a greater incidence of health-related issues including heart disease.

With all the obstacles to maintaining a healthy relationship well into one’s twilight years, seeking guidance from a trained relationship therapist can be very helpful in working out the issues that often snowball and result in marital discord or divorce.

Barriers to Seeking Help

Despite the benefits of improving the most important relationship in one’s life, most seniors do not engage in relationship therapy, regardless of how much it’s needed. There are many reasons why senior couples may find it difficult to seek help.

  • Seniors have experienced several historical events that have ingrained in them an attitude that they need to be stoic and endure adversity. Asking for help may conflict with their sense of independence.
  • Their struggles may, on the surface, not be apparent and consequently overlooked. Many of the issues that seniors grapple with are often chalked up to “getting older.” Changes in cognition are often assumed to be “early dementia.” Being blue or feeling down is thus attributed to aging.
  • Today’s seniors come from an era when mental health was not spoken about openly. Family members with mental health concerns were quietly sequestered or spoken of in whispers. The idea of even seeing a mental health professional may evoke negative feelings about mental health. They worry about the stigma of seeking help and may not openly share their troubles.
  • Love and sex are often considered relevant only to “young people.” The fact is older adults report a healthy interest in love and sex. 
  • Aging is inevitable and, sometimes, the effects place a strain on relationships. It is mistakenly assumed that there is nothing to be done and that the issues of aging are just something couples have to deal with.
  • Changes in lifestyle and income may even make it difficult to go to therapy or afford services.
  • Reduced mobility in older seniors is also a factor for those who no longer drive and rely on public transportation, as they try to limit activities that are far from home, including attending therapy sessions.

A Convenient Therapy Solution

Online counseling is bridging the gap for senior citizens who otherwise might not seek help. Seniors have embraced technology in a big way and online counseling is becoming an increasingly attractive option. The couple can enjoy therapy from the comfort of their home, helping to overcome the obstacle of limited mobility.

Older couples are also spared the anxiety of being stigmatized for seeking help. While it’s true that perceptions are changing, many people, young and old, still fear being judged for getting therapy. Online counseling from home affords an additional level of privacy.

For couples on a fixed income, affordability may also be a significant factor. Online marriage counseling services tend to be more affordable than traditional in-office sessions.

Older couples face unique challenges in maintaining their marriages and keeping their romantic flames alive. Online relationship counselors understand these needs and can help them address their challenges in a more affordable, convenient platform better suited to their changing needs.


Dawn Ferera

Dawn Ferrara is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a doctor of Psychology with additional certification in the telemental health field. She is passionate about helping people find solutions that work and believes that every person has the power to be successful. Her practice is in South Louisiana.