Fighting an Increasing Suicide Rate Among Seniors

August 12, 2013

Seniors have a higher suicide rate compared to other age groups. Recent studies have shown that rates have increased from 1999 to 2010. According to a May 2013 report issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the suicide rate has increased 50 percent for men in their 50s. The number is even greater for women between the ages of 60 to 64, where suicides have increased 60 percent.

The reasons seniors are more vulnerable to suicide include: loneliness, illness, financial hardships as well as a lack of purpose. These reasons contribute to a major risk factor for suicide: Depression. Forming friendships and staying involved in social settings are crucial to prevent depression that could lead to suicide.

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(Seniors at Senior Community Centers are socializing and new friendships could be the reason to get out of bed in the morning.)

Here is a list of tips and resources that help combat depression:

  1. It is crucial that seniors stay active both physically and mentally. There are many options and resources available for seniors. Whether it’s joining a club, taking a fitness class, volunteering or socializing with other seniors; staying involved and active is key to lowering the risk of depression and suicide.
  2. Senior Community Centers offers services to help those seniors who are struggling. Along with congregate meal sites, Senior Community Centers offers classes to promote lifelong learning and health services. We have a case management team available to guide seniors who need referrals to get the assistance they need. Over the years, working collaboratively with other social service agencies in the region, we have developed strong relationships so we are able to properly refer and ultimately provide a lifeline for at-risk seniors.
  3. Ask for help. If you or someone you know finds themselves in a predicament where additional resources or a friendly voice to talk to are needed, please contact Carlos Ochoa-Mendez at Senior Community Centers at 619-487-0719. However, if you or someone you care about needs immediate help, call the San Diego County Crisis Hotline at 888-724-7240.

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The full article appeared in the Prime Monthly Magazine July 2013 Issue.


Conversations in Health Care – How Technology is Advancing Senior Care

August 2, 2013

West Health is a leader in innovative approaches to lowering health care cost and Senior Community Centers is a proud partner to work towards that common goal. As part of the West Health Institute IDEA Series, I served as a panelist to discuss how advances in technology could change health care for a rapidly growing senior population.

Read more here or click the picture below to watch a video of the discussion:

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Why Seniors are More Susceptible to Heat and How to Help

July 26, 2013

It’s been quite a hot summer so far. We skipped May Gray and June Gloom here in San Diego and Nurse Christine at Senior Community Centers has been busy educating our seniors how to beat the heat. “I tell seniors to drink plenty of water even if they are not thirsty and to stay cool by limiting exposure to the heat during peak hours.

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(Photo Credit: http://www.griswoldhomecare.com)

Heat waves and consistently high temperatures are dangerous for anyone but especially for older adults. Here is why:

  • The brain’s natural thermostat loses its sensitivity when getting older (especially at 80 and above).
  • Circulatory problems and medications interfere with the ability to regulate the body temperature.
  • The ability to sweat and the body’s natural cooling system may be lost with age.
  • The sense of thirst and craving water may also disappear over the years.
  • Being able to “take the heat” may be a generational demonstration of strength since older adults grew up without air conditioning.
Here is what you can do for yourself and for your elderly loved ones: 
  • Clothing: Wear light-colored, lightweight and breathable clothing and a hat to fend off the heat.
  • Go easy on your joints. Swimming is a great low-impact exercise and helps prevent overheating.
  • Exercise during early morning hours. It’s cooler outside and the air quality is better.
  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Drink plenty of water – preferably every 2 hours – and don’t wait until you’re thirsty. Add fruit to your water for flavor.
  • Protect your food. Take extra precautions to keep perishable food cool and use proper preparation guidelines when cooking to stay safe.
  • Keep blinds shut. Keep out the sun by lowering your blinds or curtains
  • Keep your fan on.  Open the window to create a draft. Moving air cools down your skin.
Most of all…
  • Call or visit friends, family and neighbors twice a day. If they start acting confused, have a headache, are dizzy or nauseous, then they’re showing signs of a heat stroke. Call for immediate medical help.
Can’t cool off at home? Visit the Gary and Mary West Senior Wellness Center between 7 am and 4 pm M-F or from 8 am to 2 pm on Sat/Sun to socialize, take classes or have lunch. Or check the following website for designated cool zones in your area: County of San Diego Cool Zones.

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