Supporting the Mental Health of Seniors
Health care doesn’t just include care for the physical body; it includes care for the mind too. Solely focusing on physical health and disregarding the mental health of seniors can reduce their quality of life. WelbeHealth recognizes this. As a PACE provider (Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly), WelbeHealth addresses all aspects of wellness to keep seniors living safely in their community.
An estimated 20 percent of Americans over age 55 have a mental health disorder. Unfortunately, only three percent of those individuals seek out mental health services. WelbeHealth supports the mental health of seniors through a collaborative, gentle approach to improve well-being and health outcomes.
1. Building Trust
Rona Lomeda is a Complex Case Nurse for WelbeHealth. Her 30 years of experience in behavioral health and geriatric care have shown her the key to successfully treating the mental health of seniors is trust.
Lomeda says, “The most important thing we do is make sure our seniors feel loved. That’s what develops trust in the relationship. Ultimately, that’s how we provide the best care to seniors struggling with mental illnesses.”
WelbeHealth also builds trust by being available 24/7. Whether participants are at the day center, in their home, or on the road, WelbeHealth is just a call away. Staying in close communication with seniors lets them know that they always have someone they can lean on in times of fear, confusion, or loneliness.
2. Nurturing Companionship Among Peers
Over 40 percent of seniors report feeling lonely on a daily basis. And, studies have shown that loneliness can be as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. That’s why WelbeHealth helps provide companionship for all participants, especially those with mental illness.
WelbeHealth participants find companionship through:
- Coming to the day center
- Eating meals with other participants
- Engaging in center activities that interest them
- Visiting with caring staff members
- Calling the WelbeHealth team via phone or tablet
- Visiting with drivers and other participants during transportation rides
3. Providing Individual Care and Education
Untreated mental illness can have a domino effect on other areas of health. For example, a senior who is severely depressed may not feel like taking their diabetes medication, which can harm other areas of their body.
To help solve this, WelbeHealth provides individualized care and education.
Lomeda says, “If a patient has trouble taking daily pills, we consider administering their medicine through injection once a week. These kinds of adjustments can make all the difference in the health of the participant. Once we have trust built, we can educate them on the importance of taking their medication and find the best ways to administer it for them.”
Professional therapists are also available to support the mental health of seniors at WelbeHealth. Therapy sessions are done in person or via telemedicine when needed. Visiting with a therapist regularly can help older adults work through feelings of grief, accept a challenging health diagnosis, and support them in overcoming anxious thoughts and feelings.
“We try to connect seniors to therapy instead of prescribing medication right away,” says Lomeda.
4. Giving Relief to Caregivers
Some WelbeHealth participants live alone. Others live with a caregiver, such as a spouse or adult child. Being a caregiver can be exhausting, especially if your loved one has a mental illness. WelbeHealth makes it a priority to provide support to caregivers, so they can best care for their loved one.
Caregivers of WelbeHealth participants benefit from:
- Respite care
- Transportation for their loved one
- Support groups
- Home care assistance
Supporting the mental health of seniors is just one way WelbeHealth helps older adults and their families. WelbeHealth provides primary care, physical and occupational therapy, dental care, vision care, and more. Visit our FAQ page or contact us for further information.