Gain awareness of physical and mental health challenges for seniors

Various advertisements for seniors – often involving sailing or hiking – celebrate that it is no small accomplishment to live long enough to become old. It’s so true, and worth a smile every time. With mounting milestones, we know that aging doesn’t get any easier due to evolving physical and mental health considerations. It is important to understand this late-life stage for yourself and your loved ones.

Growing numbers

Services for seniors have advanced through the decades and the needs will be greater than ever. Due to the aging baby boomers and increases in life expectancy, the senior population is dramatically increasing.

The number of adults aged 65 and older will almost double between 2005 and 2030 from 37 million to more than 70 million, accounting for a population increase of 12 to 20 percent. Consequently, if the prevalence of mental health disorders among older adults remains unchanged, the number of older adults with mental and substance use disorders will nearly double from about 8 million to about 14 million over the next two decades, as noted in Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) curriculum.

MHFA is a public health education training that teaches participants how to recognize symptoms of mental health problems, how to provide initial help, and how to guide a person toward appropriate treatments and other supportive help.

Information from MHFA points out that most older adults go through their later years in good mental health while they experience circumstances that can elevate their risk for mental illness. Depression and anxiety disorders are among the most common mental health problems that develop, and one in four people 55 and older experience a mental health disorder that is not part of the normal aging process.

A concerning statistic is that fewer than 40 percent of older adults with mental or substance use disorders (SUD) get treatment. Further, those who receive treatment from primary care physicians were provided adequate care only 15 percent of the time.

Health conditions

In any event, it is important to advance your general knowledge about common health conditions that raise the risk for late-life mental health problems. They include: heart disease and recent heart attack, COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), migraines, thyroid disease, stroke, brain injury, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, acute chronic infection, dementia, conditions reducing mobility and function, conditions that are painful, and use of multiple medications.

Life circumstances

In turn, common life circumstances raise the risk for late-life mental health and substance use problems. Those include: onset of pain and disability, sensory deficits (vision and hearing loss), loss of loved ones, retirement or job loss, financial difficulties, mobility and functional challenges, change in lifestyle or living arrangements, threats to independence and autonomy, loss of social supports, challenges to self-esteem, cognitive changes, fear or prolonged distress, sleep disturbances, decline in health status, uses of certain over-the-counter or prescription medications or multiple medication use, prior depressive episode or family history of depression, providing care to a dependent person, and extended or longstanding bereavement.

So many factors

As you read these lists, you may instantly recognize signs and symptoms in yourself or your relations. For older adults, it is also good to know that mental health problems often “co-exist” with other health problems, and, most of all, remember that people are never too old to recover and have better quality lives.

To get more information about our metro Denver mental health centers visit communityreachcenter.org or call 303-853-3500. We have centers in the northside Denver metro area including the cities of Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City and Brighton. Additionally, our website has a link to sign up for free Mental Health First Aid courses.  

Learn About Family Counseling as National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week Approaches

Father hugging sonNational Drug and Alcohol Facts Week  is Jan. 22-27. This important observance is designed to give teens and their families helpful, accurate information on drug and alcohol use. Too often a teen’s attitude toward substance abuse is shaped by influences in movies, TV shows, music and video games that don’t accurately depict the toll that substance use can take on them, their friends and families.  

A wide variety of events and the distribution of science-based materials aims to bust the many myths about drug and alcohol use during National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week. Many parents find that the observance can create positive momentum toward intervening in a teen’s substance abuse through treatments like family counseling.

 

7 Tips for Talking With Teens About Drugs and Alcohol

At the core of National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week is the idea that teens who have accurate information about substance abuse and open lines of communication with their parents and other adults are empowered to make smart choices about their behavior. To make that vision a reality, parents must initiate a dialog with their adolescent children.

Below are seven key concepts to keep in mind as you take that first step:

1) Give your teen ample notice. Conversations about drug and alcohol use can be difficult. If a teen is caught off guard, a common reaction is to become defensive and uncommunicative. On the other hand, a teen who has some time to gather their thoughts is much more likely to be open and engaged in the conversation. 

2) Start talking with your children when they are young. Many children have their first experience with drugs or alcohol earlier than parents might think — before they are even teenagers in some cases. Ideally, you should open a dialog before they begin experimenting.

3) Don’t make accusations or demand information. Unless you know for certain that your teen is using drugs or alcohol, you should not accuse them of doing so. You also should not demand that they disclose information about their behavior or that of their peers. The goal of this conversation is to encourage openness going forward and to indicate your willingness to be a resource for your teen.

4) Avoid scare tactics. While there are many serious consequences of drug or alcohol abuse, you should not attempt to shock your teen into abstinence. Doing so may make them hesitant to have conversations with you in the future. 

5) Set expectations and discuss consequences. Be sure your teen is clear on your rules regarding substance abuse and what the consequences are for breaking those rules. Then, be sure to follow through if the need arises.

6) Give your teen a safe way out of difficult situations. Let your teen know that they can call or text you at any time of the day or night and you will come to get them, no questions asked. 

7) Consider professional help. If you think opening a dialog with your teen will be too difficult, it may be helpful to have a therapist participate in the conversation.

 

Helping Teens and Families Find Common Ground Through Family Counseling 

Community Reach Center provides a wide variety of mental and emotional health services to help teens and families come to an agreement on issues around drug and alcohol use. This includes individual counseling, family counseling and other treatments. To learn more, visit communityreachcenter.org or call us at 303-853-3500 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. We have centers in the northside Denver metro area of Adams County including the cities of Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City and Brighton.

Mental Health Apps? A Mental Health Center Highlights Some Helpful Tools.

Woman using mental health appThere is no substitute for the assistance of a trained mental health professional in some situations. In other scenarios, however, a mental health app may provide all the insight and encouragement a person needs. At our mental health center, we encourage people to take advantage of the full spectrum of mental health treatments as needed, from regular in-person counseling sessions to free or low-cost mobile apps.

 

There’s an App for That

The number of digital tools that can be used to supplement professional therapy is growing rapidly. For people who can’t get in to see a counselor as often as they would like to, these apps can serve as a bridge between sessions. While no one is predicting that mental health apps will ever be sophisticated enough to empower the kind of results that come from highly-personalized sessions with a therapist, they are improving with each iteration.

Here are just a few of the low-cost or free apps that may be helpful for people with mild mental and emotional health challenges:

 

MoodKit

Based on the principles of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), MoodKit offers more than 200 unique mood improvement activities. The app was created by two clinical psychologists, and helps users generate self-awareness and practice more effective self-care.

 

Quit That!

This app is designed to help users break bad habits and beat addiction. From alcohol and drugs to cigarettes, Quit That! makes it easy to monitor and track your progress toward being addiction-free.

 

Stigma

What are the words you use most often when describing your mood in the app’s journal? Stigma uses a “word cloud” to help you visualize your emotional landscape as an aid in navigating it more successfully.

 

Headspace

Headspace is a popular app that provides guided meditation instruction. There are hundreds of lessons covering everything from basic techniques to specific meditations designed to help with stress, sleep issues, focus and much more.

 

Mind Shift

Created for use by teens and young adults, Mind Shift doesn’t encourage users to avoid anxious thoughts and feelings, but instead to change the way they look at anxiety. Its goal is to encourage people to take charge of their lives and to make it through the tough periods that inevitably arise.

 

Rise Up and Recover

Designed for people who are recovering from an eating disorder, this app enables users to log the meals they eat and how they feel in general, with an option for generating a printable PDF of their progress. It also provides quick coping skills for users who are feeling the urge to skip a meal or binge eat.

 

These are just a sampling of the long (and growing) list of mental health apps available. If you are struggling with a particular mental or emotional health challenge, it may be beneficial to search the app store on your mobile device to see if there is a digital tool that can help.

 

A Mental Health Center That’s Here When You Need More Than an App

Apps are great for encouraging and enabling self-care. However, some mental or emotional health challenges reach a level where you need guidance from a trained professional. Community Reach Center is a mental health center staffed by skilled and experienced counselors who can provide the help you need to bring your life back into balance. Visit communityreachcenter.org or call us at 303-853-3500 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for more information about our services. We have centers in the northside Denver metro area of Adams County including the cities of Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City and Brighton.