Tag Archives: therapy

Rethinking treatment for seniors with depression

Mom is depressed. I know this. She knows this. Admitted it to the doctor when he asked.

But she remains very resistant to the idea of talk therapy.

This, from the woman who can, and does, talk to everyone! She’s never met a stranger, and she’s collected the life stories from hundreds of strangers while riding the bus or waiting in line at the grocery store. Mom is not shy at all about discussing depressing personal subjects, like Dad’s Alzheimer’s or her own battle with cancer.

The woman who admits she is lonely and just wants someone to talk to, still refuses to go talk to a therapist once or twice a week. There is a special program in her town designed to deal with geriatric mental health issues.

Mom says it’s because they won’t come to the house. The doctor wants to encourage my mom to stay active and get out of the house. The personal care service can and does drive her to any appointments.

Perhaps it is more of a generational issue. Mom comes from a generation that quietly bore their burdens, versus jumping on the therapist’s couch. Psychoanalysis was more of an upper-class pastime than something the average person engaged in. Now, therapy is recommended for just about anyone, even children.

But maybe we need to rethink senior therapy to encourage more people like my mom to participate. Perhaps an initial home visit/assessment, then subsequent office visits. When you physically feel lousy, you are going to feel even more depressed but may not feel like getting dressed and leaving the house.

Once my mom connects with someone, it lifts her spirits and she is willing to be more flexible with her routine. For example, sometimes the personal care attendant can only come at 10am, which is early for my mom. Guess what? Mom has adjusted just fine.

This is probably a short-term issue, as I have a feeling baby boomers will have no problem with therapy, but it does make me feel for all of those lonely, depressed seniors isolated in their homes right now. I wish we could reach out to them effectively. (Mom refuses to go to the Senior Center as well!)

Are there programs in your community that are designed to help seniors battle depression or loneliness?


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Medicare broadens coverage of therapy for dementia patients

I was pleased to learn that Medicare is no longer requiring the “demonstrable improvements” mandate when it comes to covering the charges for a variety of therapy treatments for those with dementia. Most of us who have cared for a loved one with dementia know that physical therapy, speech therapy and occupational therapy can often improve quality of life. While this improvement was often not at the level Medicare required for reimbursement, it offered benefits that the indifferent eye of bureaucracy could not see.

While I have witnessed firsthand the challenges of successful rehab with a dementia patient, I think there are specific therapy programs that could brighten a dementia patient’s mood and help them better communicate their fears and frustrations. Dad somehow learned to walk again, despite being in the mid-stages of Alzheimer’s. I think it takes specially-trained therapists who know the best ways to reach dementia patients.

I hope more dementia patients can take advantage of therapy programs without their families having to worry about the financial consequences.

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Relearning your life

It’s interesting the simple things we take for granted, until sickness or old age strikes. I was talking to Mom today and she said in rehab tomorrow she’s going to learn how to get dressed on her own again. “Really exciting, I know,” Mom joked. (She hasn’t lost her sense of humor yet.) It made me think about how most of us go through our daily routines without even stopping to think about the steps involved. Getting dressed? Most of us master that as small children. Now Mom is learning how to do it all over again. It must be so frustrating on a certain level.

Of course, dementia didn’t give Dad a chance to learn new or old things. The disease robbed him of his mind, bit by bit.

And I’m having to adapt to a new way of living too. I’m not a fan of change, but this isn’t about me. Still, it’s amazing how one illness can change the life of a family forever.

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