October is National Depression Month - Senior Life Solutions Offers Geriatric Depression Screening


Some people believe suffering from depression is a character flaw or a weakness. In the elderly, there is stigma attached - they feel ashamed they can't overcome it on their own, are afraid of not being taken seriously and some equate depression with mental illness. For some, the idea of seeking care is more fearful than the paralyzing pain of the depression.

To help bring awareness to depression in older adults age 60 and over, caring professionals through St. Luke's Hospital's Senior Life Solutions will provide free, confidential screenings to detect depression Thursday, Oct. 8, from 9 a.m. - 2:30 p.m., at 48 Hospital Drive, Suite B, Columbus, located in the St. Luke's Hospital Medical Park. An appointment is necessary, please call 894-9890.

Depression increases the risk for medical illness, and untreated depression can have fatal consequences in terms of suicide and non-suicide mortality. Symptoms of depression can be different than in younger people and is often confused with other diseases of aging. The elderly may suffer memory problems, confusion, and social withdrawal, loss of appetite and inability to sleep, all of which can be confused with dementia, Alzheimer's disease, cancer or thyroid problems.

In general, the medical profession is becoming more aware of depression in the elderly, and St. Luke's Hospital offers help in the form of a program called Senior Life Solutions. Depression and anxiety aren't healthy at any age. When a person loses interest in life, for any reason, something is wrong. Depression is a serious problem for older people, affecting nearly 15 percent of the population over age 65.

Senior Life Solutions is an intensive outpatient program for ages 65 and over who are struggling to cope with later-in-life stressors such as the loss of their spouse, mounting health issues, loss of independence, having to move from their home, losing the ability to drive, losing their memory, isolation and not being able to handle daily affairs as they did when they were younger.

The staff of Senior Life Solutions includes a board certified psychiatrist, a licensed clinical social worker, a registered nurse and a patient coordinator/CNA who work together to design an individualized treatment plan for each participant to improve their quality of life. A client will see the physician once per month, receive individual therapy monthly and group therapy which is a powerful dynamic. In a group setting, emotions clients think no one else understands become normal.

Referrals are welcomed from family members, friends, senior centers or church families and medical providers.
Medicare embraces the program, as the patients who participate in it are healthier both mentally and physically therefore reducing hospital stays, physician visits and trips to the emergency room.

Caring for our community is another way St. Luke's Hospital and Senior Life Solutions continues to provide exceptional care, close to home.