“If I’ve learned one thing working with seniors over the past three years it’s that their issues aren’t much different from those we face in the earlier stages of life: Loneliness, isolation, unresolved trauma, relationship conflict, and grief and loss,” said Frank Jacobelli, a clinical social worker and primary therapist at Vitality for Life. “But the best part of working with this population is watching them begin to get excited about meeting their futures head on. And our clients tend to do it with such amazing grace and style. They actually inspire us, the treatment team.”
Vitality For Life Now In 8th Year Serving Carson Valley’s Senior Community
Established in 2010, Vitality for Life — an outpatient senior mental health and wellness program at Carson Valley Medical Center in Gardnerville — has been helping to meet the needs of local seniors suffering with depression, anxiety, grief and loss and social isolation
“Vitality was lifesaving for me,” said 65 year old Lucy, a Gardnerville resident and graduate of the program. “I couldn’t find my way out of the depression. My situation seemed too complex and I wouldn’t have made it through without this program. I was able to pull my life back together.”
At the time Lucy enrolled in Vitality for Life, she was struggling with health problems that were causing fatigue, and chronic pain. She was having difficulty walking and gardening, and she was unable to do many of the things that gave her life meaning.
These losses and limitations had begun to cause a breakdown in Lucy’s ability to cope.
Her important relationships began to suffer. In a short time, and without realizing it, Lucy had become deeply depressed.
Loss is a natural part of life and individuals tend to suffer more of it as we age. Loss may result from the deaths of loved ones, declining health, loss of independence, divorce, or from other causes. While the natural response to loss is grief, depression is not.
About 17 percent of the senior population in Douglas County suffers from a mental health disorder and greater than one in ten meets the diagnostic criteria for Major Depression, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
When looking at only those seniors who are dealing with a physical health condition, the percentage of depressed individuals more than doubles.
Depression in seniors often goes unrecognized because there is frequently another health issue occurring at the same time and the depression doesn’t receive the attention it requires. Untreated depression can lead to serious consequences including increased isolation, worsening physical health problems, and even suicide.
The often misunderstood disease of depression is not a result of weakness, poor life-
choices, or morale failings. Advances in our understanding of the brain have made clear that depression, like diabetes, is a biological disorder. And like diabetes, depression is treatable.
“The atmosphere at Vitality feels incredibly safe and supportive,” said Lucy. “I didn’t
feel stigmatized or weird about being in treatment for my depression. I wasn’t sure I’d like beingin group therapy but those sessions helped me to put my problems into perspective and it was actually nice to be there for other people.”
Vitality for Life offers seniors the opportunity to explore the challenges they face from day to day, learn and practice the coping skills they need to overcome them, and live life to its fullest.
If you or a loved one is experiencing “the blues,” a deep sadness, feelings of hopelessness, loss of energy, and/or loss of interest in the things that were once pleasurable, don’t mistakenly assume this is a normal part of aging.
You may be suffering from a treatable health disorder.
For more information on Vitality for Life or to schedule a free consultation, call 775-782-1599. Support groups are also offered throughout the month — visit http://www.cvmchospital.org/support for more information.