Cover Story

With the huge demand for psychological services among older adults, Long Island geropsychologist Merla Arnold, PhD, has carved out a successful and highly rewarding independent practice for herself.

One of her practice's strengths is that she travels to see her clients in assisted-living facilities, since they are generally unable to go to her. "While I don't have my own cozy office with my own comfortable chair," she says, "I do get a lot of information about how a person is living."

Her clients face many of the same issues that younger people do--depression and anxiety, for example--but they cope with many added losses as well, including the physical diminutions that keep them less active than they once were, and the loss of their former homes, neighborhoods and friends. She offers a variety of services, such as helping people improve their communication with their adult children, cut down on alcohol use or better prepare themselves for death.

"Sometimes the best I can do is bear witness," she says. "Then it becomes about them not feeling alone."

She also enjoys sharing her wellness and prevention focus with clients. "If we can teach people how to relax, how to breathe, to move, to be active, to engage socially--all of these things can help reduce anxiety, blood pressure, and other physical complaints or problems related to behavior, thoughts or attitudes."

-T. DeAngelis