Service Program for Older People

7 FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH AND OLDER ADULTS

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1. My father’s personality seems to have changed since my mother died. He is only 63 but he has lost all interest in life, has trouble sleeping, doesn’t want to eat, and won’t go out with friends. Is this just part of getting older, or can you help him?

The changes you describe are not “just part of getting older.” With professional help, your father might be able to overcome many or all of these symptoms.

The loss of a loved one is difficult at any age, but it can be especially challenging for an older adult who may also have lost other family members and friends. SPOP provides bereavement support – at no cost to participants – which can include individual support as well as volunteer-led groups. Many adults find that sharing their experience with others who have experienced grief can be a great help.

Your father may also be depressed. SPOP can assess his overall physical and mental health and explain how counseling and therapy can help. As the only agency in the region dedicated exclusively to mental health care for older adults, SPOP has the expertise to recognize symptoms of depression and provide treatment that can help your father.

2. I am afraid that my 91-year-old mother would scream if I suggested going for help – she is very “old school” and would be embarrassed to see a therapist.

Your mother is not alone. The stigma associated with mental health treatment can be a major barrier to treatment for many adults. However, there is growing recognition that independent adults find it helpful to speak with a trained professional about the life changes they encounter as part of aging. The therapists at SPOP are sensitive to the personal needs of older adults, the stigma that might be associated with therapy, and the nuances of different cultures and communities. You can call our intake staff during business hours to ask for guidance in encouraging your mother to meet with a therapist.

3. My 83-year-old uncle has just returned home from the hospital and his social worker suggested that he meet with a therapist to manage anxiety. But I don’t see how we can arrange this – he is disabled, can’t travel, and doesn’t even speak English. I don’t know what to do.

SPOP provides culturally-sensitive counseling in English, Spanish, French, and Mandarin – and our professional staff make home visits to adults who are medically deemed unable to travel. We can probably help during your uncle’s recuperation.

4. My 60-year-old sister has been in and out of psychiatric hospitals for many years. My family is now looking for a way to help her to get back on her feet so that she can live with us. We understand that we will need a lot of support to make this work. Do you have a program that can help us?

SPOP offers PROS – Personalized Recovery Oriented Services, licensed by the New York State Office of Mental Health, which are designed to meet the needs of adults like your sister. We also understand the challenges that you face as a caregiver, and we can work with you and your sister to plan a program that includes psychiatric rehabilitation, therapy,  life skills training, medication management, meals, and a busy schedule of engaging activities in a safe environment. To learn more please call 212-787-7120 ext. 140.

5. I am 56 years old and don’t consider myself an “older person.” But I am having a lot of anxiety related to family issues and money worries. Can you help me?

SPOP serves adults age 55 and above – and many of our clients consider themselves young! Please call our intake staff at
212-787-7120 x514 during business hours to see how we can help.

6. Do you accept insurance?

Yes. SPOP accepts Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance. Please call 212-787-7120 x514 to see if SPOP participates in your plan.

7. I am worried that my 84-year-old grandmother is hooked on her prescription pain medication. She takes a lot of pills, and she also has a history of depression. What should I do?

Substance use – of alcohol, prescription medication, or illicit drugs – is far more common among older adults than you might suspect. Our psychiatric nurse practitioner evaluates new clients for symptoms of substance use, and we offer a specialized Substance Use Counseling program. Click here to learn more.

SPOP provides comprehensive mental health services for adults age 55 and older in Manhattan.

Please call 212-787-7120 x514 during business hours to learn how we can help you or a loved one.

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