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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.

You’re Not Alone

Bruce Ricker, D.O., is a physician in the Mt. Ayr Medical Clinic and cares for many elderly patients. “Senior Life Solutions has been invaluable,” he says. “I’ve referred so many people to the program and seen firsthand how it helps with recovery for depression and stressful life circumstances.” He adds that being able to offer it locally in Ringgold County is so important. “There are people who aren’t able to travel well, or no longer drive. The staff will pick them up and bring them to counseling. It keeps them from being socially isolated.” Dr. Ricker has observed that patients tend to do better with a holistic approach. He can prescribe medication for depression, but medication plus counseling together gets the best results. “Patients find out that even if the life situation that got them to the program is different from others in the group, coping mechanisms can be very similar and they can really learn from each other.” He added that just getting out of the house and being with other people can be beneficial in itself.

A physician’s point of view: Bruce Ricker, D.O.The real success of Senior Life Solutions is the staff, according to Dr. Ricker. “For them, it’s not just a job, it’s a profession and a passion. They are really in it to help people, and our community is blessed.”

• 1 in 5 adults in America experience a mental illness.
• Nearly 1 in 25 (10 million) adults in America live with a serious mental illness.
• One-half of all chronic mental illness begin by the age of 14; threequarters by the age of 24.
• 16 million American adults live with major depression.
• 42 million American adults live with anxiety disorders.
• Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and is a major contributor to the global burden of disease.
• 90% if those who die by suicide have an underlying mental illness. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US.

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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