Aging presents new challenges to everyone. As we get older, our bodies become less resilient and our health may deteriorate. We face transitions from retirement and heartbreak from the loss of loved ones. While we often focus on the logistical aspects of coping with these changes, there are also real impacts on our emotional well-being. Additionally, older adults have been shown to seek help less often than other age groups, and so may be more likely to be going it alone.
Help before a crisis
This is where Senior Reach comes in. The goal of the program is to identify older adults who need emotional or physical support, as well as connection to services, before a serious crisis develops. A referral can be made in the middle of a crisis too.
Senior Reach’s community partners are trained to recognize signs that an older adult may be in need of help. They then contact the Senior Reach Call Center and explain their concern. A Senior Reach specialist contacts the senior to assess their needs and offer services.
The uniqueness of this program, where someone reaches out to the senior, results in a high percentage of engagement.
Coordinated support makes a big difference
Thelma*, a recent client of Senior Reach, found both the support she needed to feel empowered and connected as well as resources to better care for her health. Thelma had taken a bad fall, spending two days at an area hospital where they treated her pain and swelling. Upon her release, the hospital social worker called Care Management at Seniors’ Resource Center (SRC) about Thelma and her need for a cane.
A care manager from SRC met with Thelma, assessed her needs, and located a cane as well as a magnifier to help her read her mail. While getting acquainted with Thelma, the care manager discovered she was a recent widow grieving the loss of her husband. Additionally, a twenty-two-year-old nephew had been spending the night on her couch, saying he was homeless. Thelma was thankful for his company, but was anxious about the nephew’s frequent coming and going in the middle of the night. The care manager introduced Thelma to Senior Reach, explaining that a counselor would provide support for her grieving process and assist her with problem-solving regarding her nephew.
With the Senior Reach counselor coming to her home for sessions over a period of three months, Thelma found she was able to clarify her wishes and set goals accordingly. She felt supported in honoring the memory of her husband and better understood the grieving process. The counselor helped her make a list of all her friends from childhood through adulthood and she began calling them regularly on the phone. Many of her friends had also lost a family member and needed a friend. She built a strong, mutually-supportive network and felt less alone.
With the support of her counselor, she also set boundaries with her nephew and followed through. Thelma decided he could visit during the day when she was home, but would no longer be able to spend the night. It was painful to refuse him shelter, but she was convinced it was best for them both. By the end of her sessions with her counselor, Thelma felt increased self-confidence in managing her life.
An added bonus for Thelma was a visit from her nephew four weeks after she “laid down the law.” He was sharing an apartment with two friends who allowed him to join them, as long as he paid rent on time.
He brought her flowers.
Filling the increasing need for support
The population of adults over 60 is increasing nationwide and Colorado is no exception. Feedback on Senior Reach demonstrates a high degree of effectiveness in increasing the emotional well-being and independence of older adults in our community.
Recently Senior Reach expanded to Adams County, joining Jefferson, Gilpin, Clear Creek, Broomfield, and Boulder counties. If you would like to find out more about the program or if you feel you or someone you know could use Senior Reach, call:
Interested in bringing Senior Reach to your community?
Contact the Senior Reach National Consultant, Darla Gurry, LCSW: 303.810.1193.
*Not a client name.This post is a composite of numerous older adults who have been served through Senior Reach.