Getting older doesn't mean you're "doomed to be depressed"

Oct 15, 2013

Credit Flathead County Agency on Aging

Montana’s population is aging, and the number of people aged 65-and older living in Montana is expected to keep growing.

A report from the state Department of Health and Human Services says in 2000 Montana ranked 14th in the nation in the percentage of its population aged 65 or older.

That rank is expected to jump to 5th by the year 20-25.

Connecting this population with the necessary health services is part of an effort that brings together several organizations for seniors.

Embrace Health out of North Valley Hospital in Whitefish is a mental health program specifically designed for people aged 55 and older, and is one of the organizations on the Flathead’s Senior Wellness Committee connected with the Flathead area Agency on Aging.

Program Director Jennifer Allen said an upcoming event brings together several Flathead area senior services to offer a range of screenings including memory, blood pressure, balance and fall, nutrition, and mental health. Agency on Aging staff will also be on hand with information about their services, as well as to help set up Medicare counseling appointments.

Allen said a top issue is geriatric depression.

"One of the things that sometimes happens is that persons have a feeling that because we're older that we're just somehow doomed to be depressed," Allen said this is not the case.

"We're somewhat more vulnerable as older persons because as we age we may accumulate loss, we may accumulate loss of function, we may struggle with financial stressors and family stressors, and physical stressors. But, in fact, the same tools that we use to help with depression in younger individuals works wonderfully for older individuals," Allen said.

The upcoming free Senior Health and Wellness Screenings take place on October 29th from noon to 2PM at the Kalispell Senior Center. More information is available from Embrace Health at 862-4763.