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Tag Archives: Mental Health

Meet the New Senior Life Solutions Director

Morgan Drake, RN, is joining the staff at Ringgold County Hospital to mange the Senior Life Solutions program. She is taking over for Deb Robertson who retired on August 21. Morgan has spent her entire career working with seniors. She worked in nursing homes in Bedford and Mt. Ayr before starting Senior Life Solutions at Decatur County Hospital. Morgan received her nursing degree from Iowa Western Community College in Clarinda, IA. A native of Bedford, she currently lives there with her family.

Ringgold County Hospital’s Senior Life Solutions program, an intensive group counseling program for individuals over age 55, provides assistance to people who are dealing with emotional or behavioral issues often related to aging. Family members, physicians or other health professionals can refer individuals to the program. For more information about Senior Life Solutions, or to make a referral, contact our caring and dedicated team at (641) 464-4468.

Mental Health in a Pandemic

Cathy Sneed, LISW

Not many of us have lived through times like these before. Cathy Snead, Senior Life Solutions Therapist for Ringgold County Hospital, outlined some strategies for keeping you and your family mentally strong.

Children
Children have become isolated from some friends and family. Routines have changed, they’re fearful of the virus, and are often spending too much time in front of a computer. Parents can start with the basics and provide a healthy diet and time for exercise and p l a y . “Parents should watch for behavior changes like wanting more time alone, Solutions Therapist acting out verbally, or behavioral outbursts,” said Cathy. “If you are aware of these kinds of changes, seek out expert help as early as possible. Ask a counselor for advice on how to speak with your child. It’s important to listen openly and to encourage them to feel safe asking for and accepting help.”

Parents
Children are not the only ones affected. Parents are being pulled in many directions as they try to work from home while they tend to children and perhaps elderly parents as well. If you or your spouse are experiencing mood changes, wanting to isolate, having crying spells, or are having difficulty concentrating, it’s most likely stress related. Along with counseling, Cathy recommends self-care. “Self-care is being aware of your personal needs,” she explains. “It’s important to make time for yourself to prevent burnout and fatigue during stressful times.” She adds that it’s normal to feel depressed occasionally, but if it continues for extended periods of time, seeking professional help is a good plan. “I suggest they start with their primary care physician to rule out a medical complication,” advised Cathy. “If there are no medical concerns, a mental health professional can help identify techniques and strategies that will work best for the individual.”

Seniors
Seniors are being isolated for the sake of their own physical health, whether they’re in assisted living or in their own homes. They’re missing church, social activities, family visits, and regular meals and routines. According to Cathy, depression in seniors can be mild, evidenced by a low mood, lack of interest in activities they used to enjoy, or insomnia. Major depression affects a person’s thinking and can have them overstressing the negative, having inflexible rules, and taking responsibility for bad events. “Seniors may also experience generalized anxiety, chronic worry, while feeling uptight and restless,” she added. “These are all symptoms that can be exasperated by experiencing the current pandemic.” Friends and family members can offer emotional support and encouragement by listening with intent, offering to take the depressed person to the doctor or medical provider, and sharing validation for their feelings. It’s clear that mental health is as important as physical health. During these trying times, it’s critical that we keep our eyes on each other and watch for signs of stress and anxiety. If you or an older adult need help, or to speak to a professional, contact Senior Life Solutions at 641-464-4468.

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It’s Never Too Late

Through intensive group counseling for individuals over age 65, Senior Life Solutions provides assistance to people who are dealing with emotional or behavioral issues often related to aging.
“Sometimes the journey of life can be difficult,” said Debra Robertson, RN, CCM, local director for the program. “Our team includes Becky Hunter, LISW, who is the full-time therapist, and Grace Warin the Office Patient Coordinator. Together, we’re focused on doing all we can to make a difference in the lives of the people we serve, encouraging them to be more independent in their own lives.”

Independent again
A woman in her mid 70s came to Senior Life Solutions with a myriad of health issues. Along with her physical problems, she was severely depressed, and because she lived more than 30 miles from town, she felt isolated as well. Debra explained that she had a hard time walking and her loss of independence contributed to her low sense of self-esteem. Through group and individual therapy, her mental health improved significantly. In addition, Debra worked with her insurance and primary care physician to connect her to the preventative care resources she needed. After eight months in the Senior Life Solutions program, her quality of life had improved drastically and she
graduated.

Ongoing support
A man in his early 70s came into the program with severe anxiety and depression. He’d been caring for his wife who was quite ill. He found himself giving up everything. He quit socializing and stopped participating in activities he enjoyed. He had to give up working to be the caregiver for his wife. His doctor referred him to Senior Life Solutions. After nine months, he was on the road to recovery, but had to step away when his wife took a turn for the worse. Several months later, she passed away and he returned and graduated from the program after four months. But like many people, he struggled emotionally during the holiday season, and came back to the program again. After the excellent support he received from his group, he’s now back on his feet with a restored quality of life.

Joining the program
Debra explained that anyone can refer a person to Senior Life Solutions. Although many people come as a result of a meeting with their physicians, referrals also come from concerned adult children, friends, and relatives. Insurance considers the program an out-patient medical service, and if potential patients have questions regarding insurance, they may contact the program directly. “Even if their insurance doesn’t cover our program, we’ll steer them in the direction to help them get the services they need,” said Debra. Though most
participants are 65 and older, people in their late 50s and early 60s can benefit as well. Typically, people attend group sessions three days a week for about four hours plus individual sessions twice a month. Once they’re feeling better, they move to fewer group sessions and then graduation.

For a confidential session on the benefits of Senior Life Solutions, contact Debra Robertson, 641-464-4468.

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Senior Life Solutions Receives Program of the Year Award

Pictured left to right: Grace Warin, Office Coordinator; Deb Robertson, Program Director; Lynsey Perry, West Regional Director; and Becky Hunter, Licensed Independent Social Worker.

Launched in October of 2014, the Senior Life Solutions program at Ringgold County Hospital (RCH) received the 2015 Program of the Year award. Representatives from Psychiatric Medical Care presented the Senior Life Solutions staff with the award on Tuesday, December 8. The company runs programs across the country to help people over age 65 deal with emotional or behavioral issues.

“The staff excels at compliance, care and community” boasts Lynsey Perry, Regional Director for Psychiatric Medical Care. “Additionally, they’re exceptionally passionate, and just wonderful people who love the work they do.”

Debra Robertson, RN, CCM, the Senior Life Solutions Director at RCH was excited to receive the award. “Our team is focused on doing all we can to make a difference in the lives of the people we serve and to encourage them to be more independent in their own lives,” says Robertson.

2015 Senior Life Solutions Program of the YearOffering the Senior Life Solutions program allows Ringgold County Hospital to help patients and their families work through some of the difficult transitions in life. Gordon Winkler, CEO at RCH was ecstatic, “I couldn’t be more proud to learn they received this award.” Click here to learn more about Senior Life Solutions.

Find additional pictures from the award ceremony on our Facebook page.