AgeSpan is using a team-based pilot program to assess, counsel, and refer to treatment older adults who are experiencing anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideations thanks to a new two-year grant.
AgeSpan was awarded $200,000 from Point32Health Foundation, a partner organization that supports efforts in Massachusetts and other New England states to increase access to healthy foods, advance healthy aging, promote behavioral health, and support community-led work that addresses systemic inequities.
The pilot program is designed to fill a gap in behavioral health care for adults aged 60 and older to increase health equity and access to care, especially within the local Latino populations.
“We have seen a huge increase in anxiety and depression in all adults post pandemic, and older adults were particular hard hit because there are fewer resources available. There is a lack of access to help and a continued stigma around behavioral health issues in older adults,” said AgeSpan Chief Executive Office Joan Hatem-Roy
In the last year, referrals to AgeSpan’s Protective Services team for suicidality have increased 52 percent. These challenges are compounded by the meaningful lack of behavioral health providers, especially those with capacity to serve diverse populations.
AgeSpan is developing and providing training on evidence-based interventions that don’t require a clinician, and use a team approach to assess, counsel and refer, if needed. For example, if a home care worker notices an older adult is more isolated or sees a change in behavior, a care manager will do an assessment to determine what services are needed. A clinical program manager will oversee and coordinate behavioral health services with the team.
Depression and anxiety are not a normal or expected part of aging, however, older adults may have chronic conditions that can bring on or worsen depression or anxiety which may lead to a higher risk for suicide. Both conditions may look different in older adults and require a tailored approach to care. That is why this funding is so important to the long-term health of older adults across our service area.
AgeSpan, formerly known as Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley and North Shore, is a private, nonprofit agency dedicated to helping people in northeast Massachusetts maintain the highest level of independence, health, and safety as they age. AgeSpan is a Massachusetts Aging Services Access Point and an Area Agency on Aging. For more, information about AgeSpan and its services, visit www.AgeSpan.org or call 800-892-0890.
Building on values of service and giving, Point32Health Foundation works with communities to support, advocate and advance healthier lives for everyone. Point32Health Foundation is the result of the combination of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation and Tufts Health Plan Foundation and advances equity-focused solutions in healthy aging, access to healthy food and behavioral health in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island