Tri-County's new coordinator for older adult programs is Emily Roper-Parsons.
Emily Roper-Parsons doesn’t want to dampen anyone’s holiday season, but she’s also aware it’s important to let people know that seasonal affective disorder, the winter blahs and holiday blues can be serious this time of year.
As the new Adult Outreach Coordinator for Tri-County Mental Health Services, she’s especially aware that these and similar issues can impact older adults. Adding to the challenge is that various forms of depression are often unrecognized or untreated in older people.
“Depression can be very difficult to recognize,” Emily noted. “What is normal? How do you cope? Everyone is different, and a lot of symptoms of depression and grief overlap. But knowing what is generally normal helps. It’s also important to recognize different causes of grief, not only the death of a loved one. Maybe it’s moving from your long-time home or other dramatic changes. Recognizing that helps your ability to effectively cope with it.”
Emily joined Tri-County earlier this fall and is developing a series of free presentations that pertain to precisely such issues among older adults. Designed for caregivers, organizations including churches or older adults themselves, the presentations are free and can be tailored to fit different groups.
Emily’s work also involves coordination of the Aging and Mental Health Coalition of Kansas City North, which meets the third Thursday of each month at Tri-County. All of her efforts have several things in common, including addressing the needs of a large Northland population.
“Depression is an issue,” she noted. “It affects an estimated 11 million people nationally, and it’s very real; it’s not something you ‘just get over.’” For older adults, the problems can be especially troubling because they often go unrecognized or are considered part of “normal aging,” which they are not.
Seasonal affective disorder is a seasonal depression, which should be taken seriously.
Another presentation topic has the catchy name, “Stinkin’ Thinkin’”. “Sometimes just changing your mind, changing how you think about things can change your mood,” she explained. “We basically get thought patterns that are maladaptive like black and white thinking. Most things in life fall into a grey area, so thinking in simple black and white can lead us to assume the worst.”
Another topic is “Engage as You Age.” This deals with staying involved and active as you grow older, good advice for almost anyone. Other subjects include how to differentiate between delirium, depression and dementia; social connections during aging; surviving loss and several aspects of care giving.
“Older people and their caregivers face some unique challenges,” Emily concluded. “However there are often several solutions, and sometimes it’s just a matter of being aware of services.”For additional information call (816) 877-0453 or e-mail email@example.com.
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