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New Seniors Program Helps Aging Adults Cope with Depression

Woman at her desk with a laptop Seniors Program

Depression among older adults is on the rise, and it’s no surprise. While depression is NOT part of the normal aging process, seniors today have been dealt an additional blow with the impacts of COVID-19.

“Older adults often need to change their behaviors, adapt to new restrictions, and learn new life coping skills,” says Jillian Vaneslow, Core Recovery Founder.  “The older adult may find themselves relying more on family members and care providers to help navigate their changing conditions.

“In the age of isolation due to COVID-19 precautions, older adults may be unable to socialize with their children, grandchildren, and friends. Those adults who are living at an assisted living facility where visitation has been suspended are left feeling alone and cut-off from loved ones, increasing the risks of depression in our older communities.”

Depression impacts older people differently, and therefore, is sometimes overlooked or undiagnosed, according to Mental Health America. In the elderly, depression often coincides with other medical conditions and disabilities and lasts longer. It can also increase the risk of cardiac diseases and reduce an elderly person’s ability to rehabilitate.

Depression also increases the risk of suicide. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, the suicide rate in people ages 80 to 84 is more than twice that of the general population. The Institute considers depression in people age 65 and older to be a major public health problem.

Depression In the Elderly Is Different

A recent study found that 27% of older adults assessed by aging service providers met the criteria for a major depression diagnosis, and 31% had symptoms that didn’t qualify as a diagnosable disorder, but significantly impacted their lives.

Core Recovery’s Top 3 Activities To Help Prevent Geriatric Depression

  1. Attend to your physical health. Eat as well as you can, take your medications as prescribed, and get some kind of exercise every day. Physical health is a direct correlation to emotional health and vice versa.
  2. Keep learning. Try new hobbies, develop new interests, or increase your knowledge of current ones. Engage in brain building games and puzzles and learn new coping skills.
  3. Keep connected to the people you love and care about. Isolation is a major cause of depression in senior citizens. You may have to be creative in these COVID-19 times and be open to trying new things, such as meeting with others electronically. If you’re not computer savvy, ask for help. Setting up some of these communication platforms can be as easy as one click.

Senior Program Provides Needed Support

To help aging adults cope with increased feelings of depression, isolation, and health concerns caused by the pandemic, Core Recovery is offering a support group for older adults using psychoeducation and social interaction support.

 Our new Senior Support Group was designed by Core Recovery experts to specifically address the challenges facing seniors. The sessions are facilitated by a licensed therapist experienced in working with older adults and focus on ways to understand and cope with the challenges our aging community is experiencing today.

“The goal of this program is to create a safe place where older adults can socialize and discuss issues with other older adults, and to learn new emotional coping skills,” says Vanselow. “The group will be held via Zoom, so guests can participate from the safety and comfort of their own home, or wherever they happen to be. All they need is a smartphone, tablet, or computer and a desire to socialize in a learning environment.

 “Our hope is that our senior community understands they don’t have to suffer alone,” says Vanselow. “They can learn skills to help manage and reduce distressing emotions.”

About the Seniors Program

The program is held Thursday mornings from 10 a.m. to Noon. This is an open enrollment program so seniors can start and leave the group as they wish. It is recommended that they plan to participate for at least 6-8 weeks to get maximum benefit.

Topics covered will include:

  • Managing emotions in a changing world
  • Coping with depression and anxiety
  • Managing anger
  • Improving communication
  • Coping with grief
  • Reducing personal suffering

If you have noticed increased feelings of depression, anxiety, anger, or isolation, Core Recovery’s Psycho-educational Support group for older adults can help.

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Core Recovery is a Professionally Certified Mental Health Practice in North Phoenix.

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