Healthwatch: Senior Care

May is not only National Older Americans Month, but also Mental Health Awareness Month. Health officials say staying active during the golden years is just as important as it is for younger people.

But all too often, getting older also brings on depression. The good news is help is available.

Rush Hospital oversees more than ten programs that target this in east Mississippi.

Designed to help senior citizens combat depression and anxiety, the intensive outpatient program through senior care provides counseling and social interaction for seniors.

"The patients say a lot of times people stop associating with them and ignore them and that's when the depression takes over," said Tammy Frapp, senior care program director. "We usually have one or two on our waiting list. Usually when they're admitted to the program they are in our program for six months."

During that time program participants meet three times a week where group therapy sessions are held.

"And we talk about a wide range of things, from depression to anxiety, even to the simplest of things like my grandson has taken over my finances and how do I cope with that?" said Kristi Crane, senior care therapist.

Aside from therapy sessions, for three hours, three days a week, participants take part in other social activities. Senior care has a total of 11 sites in Morton, Forest, Union, Philadelphia, Collinsville, Quitman, Waynesboro
and Meridian, and the program even provides transportation.

Officials at Senior Care say it's important for older people to stay active.

"You would be amazed how much this helps. It is important for your social life," said Crane. "It's important for your mental health to have those cognitive processes going on."

"After six months, we reevaluate them to see if they need to continue with treatment," said Frapp. "If they do not, we discharge them and we admit someone else."

For more information on the Intensive Outpatient Program through Senior Care at Rush, call 601-703-1464.

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