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New Resource on Mental Health of Older Adult Veterans Released by VA

In partnership with US Health and Human Services and the National Council on Aging, the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) released a resource inventory intended to provide information for those interested in enhancing their outreach and support for older Veterans and other older adults who have or are at risk for behavioral health conditions. Continue reading

Upcoming Healthy Aging Webinars: Mass. Business Roundtable, Older Adult Mental Health Awareness Day

Communities and partners in the Massachusetts Healthy Aging Collaborative network may be interested in the following virtual opportunities:

  • Supporting Family Caregivers in the Workplace – Mass Business Roundtable

During this unprecedented time of COVID-19, the demand on family caregivers has never been greater. There are more than 840,000 family caregivers across the Commonwealth providing care to loved ones while balancing their work and other family responsibilities. The Roundtable helped launch the Massachusetts Caregivers Coalition bringing together business, education and public sector leaders to better understand and address the needs of family caregivers, a growing and essential part of workforces across every industry sector.

In this webinar, first in a planned series, a panel will address the realities of caregiving during COVID-19 and provide resources and strategies shared by experts. Confirmed speakers and moderators include Roundtable member Mark Butler, Cigna New England, Robin Lipson, Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs and Alexandra Drane, ARCHANGELS, as well as leaders from Roundtable members Seniorlink and Care.com.

  • National Older Adult Mental Health Awareness Day – COMBATING SOCIAL ISOLATION FOR SENIORS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

Join the Administration for Community Living (ACL), the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), and the National Coalition on Mental Health and Aging (NCMHA) for a thoughtful discussion on ways to prevent social isolation and promote mental health during this unprecedented time in our history.

Suicide, depression, anxiety, and problems with alcohol and medications are issues that older adults face. The U.S. Census Bureau indicates that by 2030, there will be nearly 75 million Americans over age 65. A 2012 study from the Institute of Medicine found that nearly 1 in 5 older Americans has one or more mental health/substance use conditions. According to 2018 data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and reported by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, adults in the 75-84 and 85+ age groups are among those with the highest rates of suicide.

Older Adult Mental Health Awareness Day 2020 will feature remarks from Lance Robertson, ACL Administrator and Assistant Secretary for Aging, and Dr. Elinore McCance-Katz, Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use. It will also share the latest information on social isolation and loneliness from Dr. Dilip Jeste, University of California San Diego Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry.

More Information on COVID-19 Responses:

VA Resources, including What Veterans Need to Know and Maintaining Your Mental Health and Well-Being

Goddard House Hosting Presentation and Discussion on Emotional Health, Loneliness and Social Engagement in Older Adults

Studies of older people have shown that good mental health and greater social
engagement are markers of resilience in aging and may be protective against
cognitive decline. Some studies suggest that treating psychiatric symptoms may
also be protective.

Dr. Nancy Donovan, Director of Geriatric Psychiatry at Brigham & Women’s Hospital, will discuss these findings and her own research that is part of the Harvard Aging Brain Study, a longitudinal study of 270 cognitively healthy older adults. The presentation and discussion will take place at Goddard House Assisted Living in Brookline. Continue reading

UMass Hosting Summit to Link Behavioral Health and Aging Services

With support from the Executive Office of Elder Affairs, UMass Boston’s Gerontology Institute is hosting a summit focused on building better collaboration between behavioral health providers and aging services.

Featured speakers include Elder Affairs Secretary Alice Bonner, Commissioner of the Department of Mental Health Joan Mikula, and State Representative Denise Garlick who co-chairs the legislature’s Joint Committee on Mental Health, Substance Abuse and Recovery. Rep. Garlick is formerly the co-chair of the Joint Committee on Elder Affairs. Continue reading

8 Easy Ways to Improve Your Heart Health

Cross-posted from Hebrew SeniorLife
By Jennifer Rhodes-Kropf, M.D., Hebrew SeniorLife

February is American Heart Health month, which makes it a great time to make changes that can improve the health of your heart. As a geriatrician at Center Communities of Brookline, I’m thrilled when patients want to make changes to positively impact their health, especially the health of the heart. Cardiovascular disease (which includes heart attack, stroke and high blood pressure) continues to be the number 1 killer of men and women in the U.S. This amazing organ needs to be protected and properly cared for to remain healthy for years to come. Continue reading

How to Identify Depression, and the Strength Behind the Pain

By Kathy Kuhn, Center for Aging and Disability Resource (CADER), BU School of Social Work

In my last blog post on mental health and aging, I described Ms. McKay, an older woman who was coping with multiple losses. She had significant hypertension, diabetes, and arthritis. She had been active in her church but was spending more and more time alone in her apartment and not even collecting her mail. Her closest relative had recently moved away. She felt that nobody really cared if she even showed up. Despite the clear signs of depression, Ms. McKay’s provider did not notice them during her last doctor’s visit. Continue reading

“It’s My Fault and I Just Need to Get Over It”: The Story of Ms. McKay’s Depression

By Kathy Kuhn, Center for Aging and Disability Resource (CADER), BU School of Social Work

I’d like to share with you a story from my days as a social worker at Kit Clark Senior Services (KCSS).

Ms. McKay is an 82-year-old African American woman living in Dorchester. She was single, with significant hypertension, diabetes, and arthritis. Although she had a prosthetic leg, she was mobile. She had been active in her church but was recently spending more and more time alone in her apartment and not even collecting her mail. Her apartment was getting increasingly cluttered, bordering on hoarding. Continue reading