Aging adults face a number of challenges unique to the older population — a loss of independence, chronic health conditions, the passing away of loved ones, and an altered financial situation as they enter retirement.
One area that is often overlooked, however, is the impact of these changes on mental health.
Nearly seven million American adults over the age of 65 experience depression each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Seniors who are homebound are especially vulnerable — more than 40 percent suffer from two to three co-existing medical and psychiatric conditions.
To bridge the gap between mental health care and in-home services, Hartford HealthCare introduced the Behavioral Health Home Care program.
The Behavioral Health Home Care program offers a comprehensive range of behavioral health services for homebound adults, including assessments and individualized treatment planning; medication management and education; short-term psycho-therapy; and family education and support. The multidisciplinary team includes specially trained nurses and occupational therapists, social workers and home health aides.
“Often times, the seniors we meet have never seen a psychiatrist or received any formal psychiatric treatment,” said Laurel Reagan, APRN, Director of Behavioral Health for Hartford HealthCare at Home. “We work closely with their primary care providers to make sure they’re prescribed the right medications, and help both the patient and caregivers learn strategies for changing behaviors and coping with stress.”
Education is often the simplest solution, since seniors can face a number of diagnoses and medications that they may not fully understand.
“Many patients are overwhelmed by their prognosis,” said Reagan. “They end up in and out of the emergency room, but often don’t have the opportunity to learn everything they need to improve their quality of life. So we take the time to teach the patient and their family about their conditions and medications.”
Although Behavioral Health Home Care’s services focus on mental health, the emphasis is on a holistic approach to wellness.
“We’re seeing great outcomes in the people we treat. Not only do they have a decrease in psychiatric symptoms, but they also are more likely to comply with their medical regimes, they’re staying out of the emergency room and hospitals, and overall, the quality of their life has improved,” Reagan said.
For more information on Behavioral Health HomeCare, visit HHCatHome.org or call 1.800.HOMECARE.