“While family and caregivers are usually quick to address physical issues that seniors may be experiencing, such as arthritis, heart disease, or osteoporosis, there are many times when their psychosocial well-being is overlooked,” says Traci Dobronravova, MSW, Associate Director of Seniors At Home. “Loneliness and depression are chief among the most serious conditions they face.”
Following several consultations with Seniors At Home staff, Jan, who had flown down from Seattle, was able to discover the sources of change in her mother’s behavior. “She was really depressed because two of her closest friends had recently died,” Jan explains, “In addition to grieving these losses profoundly, she began looking at her own mortality, which seemed a little too real for her.”
Jan convinced her mother to begin seeing a Seniors At Home therapist who specializes in issues of aging. Miriam’s spirits have buoyed thanks to the counseling she is receiving, along with visits from a Seniors At Home volunteer, who meets with her weekly for coffee, lunch, conversation, and the occasional movie.
“We find that isolation is one of the most pernicious states of being for older adults,” says Nancy Masters, MSW, MPH, director of JFCS in Marin County, who oversees Seniors At Home’s BOOST program, which helps older clients in Marin County who show signs of depression. “If we can identify seniors at risk, we can often prevent other negative consequences, physical or otherwise.”
For Jan, who is back in Seattle, the help her mother is receiving from Seniors At Home is a huge relief. “My mother has many good years left, and I want her to enjoy them to the utmost,” she says. “When my mother is happy, I am happy.”
As we move into the holidays season when depression and loneliness can be big issues, make sure to check in with the seniors in your life. To learn more about mental health support available from Seniors At Home, call 415-449-3777.