Finding Senior Work Might Include Interview Nightmares

Why would or should seniors be looking for employment once you’re obviously over the hill? You’ve got to be kidding!

Unfortunately, this is not a joke to the many senior citizens that do not have enough income to survive. Employment is not necessarily a choice. For many, senior citizen job seeking and interviews turn into a lonely, disappointing, and stressful journey.

Although, a lot of seniors come to the interview table with much experience and many skills to offer, the young, energetic, and perky applicants vying for employment opportunities usually win. Unfair? Yes!

Many senior citizens find themselves forced to seek a job because the bread-winner might have incurred a physical disability, or because of family illness or financial loss. Divorce is not out of the question. Marriages fail no matter how long the union existed. Or, perhaps you find yourself responsible to raise grandchildren. Maybe your spouse has died and left no savings, property, or retirement income. Whatever the reason, the needs are real and pose exhausting physical and mental demands.

However, many older people seeking jobs may not possess skills, and are forced to settle for minimum wage (or below minimum wage) jobs, unsafe environments, and undesirable work schedules. Often times senior work can require more physical labor than they are able to endure. Sometimes, seniors have no choice but to accept and endure low paying janitorial, kitchen, maid jobs that can be subservient and physically demanding, or difficult, and embarrassing.

Imagine for a moment, that you are an intelligent and educated person that enjoyed continuous employment and career growth throughout most of your adult life. Then, suddenly, you find yourself divorced, laid-off and out of work. And, you are 60 years old! Or, perhaps, you worked most of your adult life, but did not have smooth sailing. Maybe you had several divorces, didn’t get a fair or any settlement, or was left waist-deep in debt. Suddenly, you were forced to survive living paycheck to paycheck. Living expenses, like mortgages, transportation, food, family responsibilities, or medical problems ate up what savings and reserves you tried to build.

So, now when you should be reaping the benefits of serving others you entire life, you find yourself spending your days in a restroom cleaning toilets, emptying trash, wiping sinks, moping floors, and accepting tips from restroom users to survive? This may not be typical, but it is real, and many elderly people are faced with this scenario day after day.

In today’s society, no matter what careers or positions you have, at any moment, for millions of reasons, you could suddenly be faced with no income, inadequate health insurance, depleted retirement funds, and no job!

Can’t happen to you, you say? You are entering the Golden Years, you say? If you have invested and saved wisely, and can be sure of reaping a continued income at or above the level you received while employed – kiss your lucky stars!

Substantial monetary reserves and upscale lifestyles are not the normal situations for the everyday person in the United States. Oh, but you’ll have social security, you say? Most likely, social security will provide less than half of the income you once earned. Ah, yes, the Golden Years are staring you in the face with evil, threatening yellow eyes.

Okay, so maybe you won’t have the luxurious carefree lifestyle you ‘thought’ you’d have once you begin that downward path to life’s end. Now you find you must supplement your income and work, maybe for the rest of your life. But, hey, no problem, you have skills, you’re educated, and you might even possess a college degree (or two)!

Okay, let’s just apply for one or two positions, because employers will probably snatch you up in a heartbeat. Employers will probably be more than happy to have you join them, perhaps they’re chomping at the bit just to get hold of you. Yes, that’s right, you with all your aspirations and qualifications! Look out job markets – here you come!

The first few weeks have go by and not you had just one interview. Apparently, the outcome was not in your favor, because you have not received a call or declination letter. But, no problem, you were probably over-qualified for that job anyway.

Two months go by, and no interview invitations or potential offers. What’s the problem? Oh, it’s probably just that there abundant applicants with your qualifications. It’ll just take a bit more time.

It’s been four months since your senior work venture began. Self-doubts start to creep into your subconscious, but it can’t possibly be your age! You have numerous abilities and certificates to back up your qualifications, and you numerous awards to your credit. Maybe the job market slowed down, or maybe your salary requirement is too high. Too high? You were earning considerably more when you were employed previously! And, your standard of living and related expenses demand a substantial income. You’ll get the next one for sure!

Six months have elapsed. You’re applying for jobs in person, by snail-mail and email, Diligently waiting by your phone and checking your computer email for a favorable response. Boy, this senior work hunting is tough, but you’ll get the next one for sure!

Eight months, and finally you get an interview opportunity. You rehearse specific words in preparation to have all the right responses to the interviewer’s questions. You pick out your interview apparel days ahead, making sure the suit is clean and pressed, and shoes are shined. You may even purchase new makeup (can’t hurt to look your best). You take a dry-run to check the travel time needed so you arrive precisely on time. Gathering your documentation and carefully placing it in your briefcase; you’re ready!

You arrive for the job interview as planned. You walk through the door, and proceed to the receptionist station and introduce yourself. A disinterested and impersonal greeting is returned, and you’re directed to take a seat over there.

As you sit on the hard-backed uncomfortable chair, you look around and notice the employees are wearing jeans, sneakers, low-cut tee-shirts, and sandals! What? Most everyone has a blue-flashing light coming from the side of their heads – oh, but, of course, everyone has a cell phone attached to their body in today’s world. Maybe you’re at the wrong address! Nope, you’ve got the right address – you’re just in the wrong generation! You were taught about business apparel and professional appearances; who changed the game? The young female receptionist is showing more cleavage than most magazines! Not one wrinkle or line in sight on that flawless, made-up, young face. Her bare legs in sandals with no less than four-inch killer high-heels, and she’s chewing and popping her bubble gum!

A girl (probably no more than 14 years old), wearing a sheer lace blouse and sporting a push-up bra, five-inched platform heels, a skirt hardly more than two inches below her butt,and exploiting a tattoo around her ankle and on her thigh, walks up to you and tells you to follow her. She escorts you to a conference room where you will meet your perspective employer. You walk in, sit down and as you look at unfamiliar faces, you realize you could be parent or grandparent to any of these individuals!

Each one in the room extends their hand, dutifully, and introduces themselves with just their first name. The leader of this young pack of heifers asks you to tell them about yourself. What should you tell them; should you tell them you were at Woodstock, or that you watched the first astronaut step onto the moon’s surface, or maybe how fast you once typed on a manual typewriter? Or, how about telling them about the first television set, or about soda that came in glass bottles, the initiation of the U.S. Interstate highways, or telephone party lines?

Of course, not, they are interested in bits, megabits, software, hardware (not Ace), components, spreadsheets, data feeds, RSS, and such. They have no clue or care about half the things you could report, and they have no interest in times past. These are “now” individuals!

As your mind struggles to offer something of interest and importance within the realm of their lifespan, you realize your career story is ancient history. But, here you are, and you press on and try condense your career, and focus on position requirements and your glowing abilities.

Then, one of them has the audacity to ask how long you plan to work, and what are your goals for the next 10 years! What! In ten years, you’ll be seventy years old, just how many years do I want to work and how many life attaining goals could I be planning? Okay, mostly, I’m planning to work until I die at my desk, and my goal is to wake up the next morning!

The interview takes all of 15 minutes, and just as quickly as it began, you find yourself walking down the hallway and out the entrance door. As you walk to your car, a feeling of despair chills your spine. Perhaps they felt threatened by your glowing job history, and past successes. That must be why the interview ended so quick. Or, could the job be targeted for a young, bouncy, busty, and hormone-exploding-volcano of a female? Or, to one of the boss’ friends or relatives? After all, you don’t have any control whether the company is run by egotistic idiots or not, right?

As you catch a glimpse of yourself in the rear view mirror, you notice that compared to the young faces you’ve just witnessed, you are an old and wretched creature! As you remove your suit jacket and place it over the passenger seat, the crepe-like skin covering your bones comes into view. The mirror dares you to take another look, and the age lines and drooping jaw stand out like neon lights.

This kind of thinking will get you nowhere. Still you wonder what happened? Wasn’t it just yesterday that you had all the time in the world? You were beautiful, self assured, energetic. You possessed knowledge and expertise that made you a valuable asset to employers.

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Ending the Stigma of Depression: How Celebrities and Social Media Are Helping Young Adults and Teens

Social media is a forum for many things in the lives of young adults and teens. While most of it’s geared toward entertainment it can also be used to bring awareness to important issues that might otherwise stay in the shadows. There is a recent trend in social media that is catching on, which may help change the conversation about depression that teens and young adults might otherwise avoid having. Celebrities like Sarah Silverman, Jared Padalecki, and Cara Delevingne are sharing their personal experience struggling with depression. By being open with their experience they are starting a conversation among their fans about what depression looks like, and more importantly that there is nothing to be ashamed of for having it.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reported that one in four young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 have a diagnosable mental illness such as depression. The stigma that’s attached to depression is in part due to the negative thinking that goes with it leaving people feeling ashamed, which often results in it becoming a secret that goes untreated. It is estimated that 50 percent of young adults who dropped out of college due to mental health issues didn’t seek out mental health services of counseling services on campus or outside therapy. Stigmas about depression often come from not understanding how common it is and how it affects everyday people. Common stigmas about depression give rise to inaccurate stereotypes, such as the following:

“Depressed people can’t control their emotions”.
“People with depression are probably damaged”.
“Depressed people are just whiners who feel sorry for themselves and make excuses.”
“People with depression are just weak and lack any willpower to get over it.”
“People with depression are antisocial.”

While stigmas such as this may have kept depression a secret for many young people, a new awareness is being brought from celebrities who have experienced it firsthand. Television star of the show Supernatural, Jared Padalecki is leading a charitable effort to raise awareness for mental health issues, and opened up in an interview about his struggle with depression. The actor shared, “I couldn’t figure out what it was; it doesn’t always make sense is my point. It’s not just people who can’t find a job, or can’t fit in in society that struggle with depression sometimes.” The CW actor went on to share these encouraging words, “I say constantly that there’s no shame in dealing with these things. There’s no shame in having to fight every day, but fighting every day, and presumably, if you’re still alive to hear these words or read this interview, then you are winning your war. You’re here.”

The actor’s effort in raising awareness for mental health issues is fundraising a baseball T-shirt, which has the message, “Always keep fighting.” So far over 27,500 shirts have been sold and the proceeds are going to the group To Write Love On Her Arms, whose focus is helping people struggling with depression, self-harm, and suicidal thoughts.

Comedian and actress Sarah Silverman is best known for her comedy, but her humor sprang from the battle to overcome depression on a daily basis. Silverman took a break from comedy in the recent dramatic film I Smile Back, as a woman struggling with depression and addiction. She revealed in a magazine interview that she was only 13 years old when she first became depressed and described it as “something shifted inside me. It happened as fast as the sun going behind a cloud. You know how you can be fine one moment, and the next it’s, ‘Oh my God, I f—ing have the flu!?’ It was like that. Only this flu lasted for three years.” Silverman was open by saying she also suffered from severe panic attacks and often avoided spending time with her friends, and instead staying home from school.

Silverman disclosed that she learned to take her depression one day at a time, and that rather than trying to mask her pain with heavy medications such as anti-depressants or anti-anxiety meds, she would allow herself to experience her natural emotions. “I’ve lived with depression and learned to control it, or at least to ride the waves as best I can. I’m on a small dose of Zoloft, which, combined with therapy, keeps me healthy but still lets me feel highs and lows.”

Supermodel and actress Cara Delevingne opened up about her past struggles with depression Women in The World conference in London, and disclosed that she was suicidal as a teen. “I was completely suicidal, and didn’t want to live anymore. I thought that I was completely alone,” she explained. Even having the support of her family couldn’t stop her from having depressive thoughts. Delevingne eventually sought out help in therapy, and combined with anti-depressants, has helped herself overcome her severe depression. Delevingne now hopes to use her celeb status to help young girls recognize that “depression is not something to be ashamed of. My message has always been to accept yourself no matter what, to love yourself, to embrace your flaws,”I think flaws are the things that make us special.”

Sharing personal experiences in social media can help end stigmas about depression that keep many young people suffering in silence. It is truly a sign of inner strength to speak honestly about how depression affects the way people think and feel about themselves. When celebrities share something deeply personal that connects with their fans they are also giving a voice and starting a conversation that could help young people get help. Hope is a light that shines brightest when we feel understood and supported. Hopefully this is a trend on social media that will continue.

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Motivational Interviewing and Substance Abuse

History

In the past 50 years, many confrontational psychodynamic approaches became popular and almost the expectation of substance abuse and addiction treatment. There was the idea that substance abuse was a symptom of an underlying disorder (Weegmann, 2002). Once the disorder was treated, the secondary substance abuse would clear up on its own. As Weegmann discussed, research has shown that highly confrontational methods often instilled an ever deeper sense of resistance in the client. The percentage of successful outcomes within the field of addiction have been tossed around and range a great deal, however they have always seemed pretty dismal in comparison to the length and cost of many treatment programs. A new approach is necessary and an approach that is more accessible to those in need of it would be highly valuable in the field.

Addiction and Substance Abuse

According to Miller (1998), addiction can be described within two conditions: (1) a behavior that persists even though there is apparent risk or harm to oneself or others and (2) to an outside observer the individual demonstrates diminished, but retrievable, capacity for self-regulation of the behavior. Miller also discusses “symptoms” of addiction which include: giving inordinate priority to the addictive behavior; avoidance of situations where the behavior is inaccessible; and giving a high priority to the behavior after a period of abstinence, among others. Miller suggests that the problem of addiction is simply competing motivations. Motivation for the behavior currently outweighs the harm and perceived value of available alternatives to that behavior.

So how does an addicted individual escape addiction? Miller (1998) argues that there can be a sudden shift in how the person perceives the pros and cons of their behavior. This is often seen over time as the suffering directly attached to the addiction increases and the ratio of pros and cons shifts. Through motivational interviewing, Miller suggests that therapists and other helping professionals can lend clients another perspective, a mirror image of themselves, so as to increase the client’s conception of the consequences and saliency of their behavior.

Adolescence and Young Adulthood

Within efforts to utilize motivational interviewing within adolescence, motivational interviewing offers several advantages over other treatment options. According to one article (Tevyaw & Monti, 2004), motivational enhancement and other brief interventions have the highest effect sizes among all treatments for alcohol abuse and dependence and evidence similar efficacy rates. Motivational techniques also provide a more flexible continuum of treatment ranging from abstinence to harm reduction within cases where abstinence is not necessary, which is often the case with adolescents with short histories of substance abuse (Tevyaw & Monti, 2004). Adolescents also often end up in a treatment setting due to a decision made by an authority figure such as their parents or the justice system and concerns are often not shared by the adolescent. They are often characterized by resistance to change and a lack of understanding of the consequences of their behavior. Motivational techniques provide clinicians with an attractive method to increase rapport and commitment to change from clients that have been deemed as resistant in the past (Tevyaw & Monti, 2004).

It is often not necessary for adolescents to admit to or acknowledge having substance abuse problems in order for them to benefit from a motivational approach. Motivational techniques also do not rely on diagnostic labels allowing for the client to benefit at any level of readiness to change. It can raise awareness during the pre-contemplation stage, can help in decision-making during contemplation, can enhance a person’s resolution to change during the action and maintenance stages, and after a relapse it can provide an opportunity for reassessment (Ford, Oliver & Whitehead, 2006).

Within young adulthood, motivational interviewing provides similar advantages over other treatment options, however the ability to utilize brief interventions becomes incredibly valuable at this stage. Young adults are at a much higher risk of the drastic effects of substance abuse due to their distance from home and authority. As Monti and Tevyaw (2004) point out, young adults in the 18 to 25 age range consistently engage in high rates of risky behavior such as heavy substance abuse and unprotected sex. These individuals are less likely to be confronted by family due to their distance from them or by friends due to the general acceptance of this behavior during this life stage. It is therefore important to utilize brief motivational interventions within areas where young adults present themselves such as the emergency department, college counseling and health centers, and within employee assistance programs. Motivational interviewing provides a simple, trainable technique that can be used in any of these settings in a brief period of time.

Outcomes

Each study agreed that motivational interviewing provided at the very least a comparably effective option for substance abuse treatment. Within one study (Schneider, Case & Kohn, 2000), clients who were placed with counselors practicing motivational interviewing showed higher satisfaction rates with their experience. In another study among heavy drinkers on college campuses, brief interventions of motivational interviewing results in lower self-reported rates of alcohol consumption and lower blood alcohol levels than individuals who simply received feedback (Monti & Tevyaw, 2004). Students mandated into a campus alcohol program were more likely to seek further assistance with their drinking following a brief motivational intervention than students who simply completed the program in one study (Monti & Tevyaw, 2004). In one final study, older adolescents presenting at an emergency department following an alcohol-related event were randomized to one session of motivational interviewing versus typical care. At a 6-month follow-up, those who had received the motivational interview showed a significantly lower rate of drinking and driving, traffic violations, and other alcohol-related problems or injuries (Tevyaw & Monti, 2004).

Conclusion

Motivational interviewing is a simple, highly trainable, and effective technique that approaches addiction in a unique way. It provides a theoretical framework that falls more in line with social work values and ethics than many others. It allows for self-determination, respect, and validation of the client’s strengths. An emphasis is on giving the client something new. Especially within substance abuse, the client has heard from multiple authorities and trusted family and friends that their behavior needs to change. The framework also allows for brief interventions that can take place in almost any setting and do not require a professional therapist to initiate. This allows for more manageable, accessible, and cost-effective treatment.

Miller described addiction as when an observer sees the behavior as too high a cost and diminished control within the individual. Motivational interviewing allows for the client to become that observer of their own behavior.

References

Ford, C., Oliver, J., Whitehead, B. (2006). Treating Drug Users: A Collaborative Method. Therapy Today. 17, 2, 17-20

Miller, W. (1998). Toward a Motivational Definition and Understanding of Addiction. Motivational Interviewing Newsletter for Trainers, 5, 3, 2-6

Monti, P., Tevyaw, T.O., Borsari, B. (2004). Drinking Among Young Adults. Alcohol Research and Health, 28, 4, 236-244

Schneider, R. J., Casey, J., Kohn, R. (2000). Motivational versus Confrontational Interviewing: A Comparison of Substance Abuse Assessment Practices at Employee Assistance Programs. The Journal of Behavioral Health Services and Research, 27, 1, 60-74

Tevyaw, T.O., Monti, P. (2004). Motivational Enhancement and Other Brief Interventions for Adolescent Substance Abuse: Foundations, Applications, and Evaluations. Addiction, 99, 63-75

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