Category: Support System

5 Tips for Finding the Right Mental Health Therapist for Seniors

Thank you to guest blogger, Holly Clark, Freelance Health Writer.

Mental health is essential. No matter what age you may be, staying mentally healthy is extremely important, not just for your mood or happiness, but for the health of your body as well. Poor mental health may cause poor overall health, which is never a good thing. It’s not shameful to need help sometimes, and seeing a therapist is the best way to get the help you need. However, seeing a therapist as a senior may seem a bit daunting. This is especially true when it comes to finding one. Fret not, because it is possible to find the right therapist for you. Some tips to find the right therapist as a senior are:

Ask Your Doctor

If you’re comfortable asking your doctor, they’re the best place to begin. Your doctor may be able to refer you to a therapist that matches you. Many people will ask their doctors for a referral, so it’s not something that they’re unfamiliar with. Explain to your doctor some of your issues, and then ask if they have any recommendations, you just may be surprised at how helpful asking your doctor may be.

Use Internet Resources

The internet is a powerful tool, and it comes with a lot of sources for help. Do a few internet searches for therapists in your area, there are many online resources that list therapists and their locations, as well as specialties. Doing some shopping around also allows you to look at all of your options before choosing which therapist you’d like to try first. Remember, you may not like the first or even the second therapist you see. It’s okay to end the relationship and move on to another choice. Sometimes you’ll need to try a few different therapists before finding the one you feel most comfortable with.

Look For Your Insurance

It’s important to remember to look for a therapist that accepts your insurance. To do this, you can look through directories online, or even call your insurance company for a list of therapists in your area. Some will even let you filter your results by age and gender, allowing you to specify what sort of person you’d feel more comfortable seeing. If you have Medicare, this insurance does cover therapy, as well as many other insurance companies do.

Ask Around

It’s not shameful or even odd to ask your friends and family if they have any recommendations. You may be surprised at how many people you know that have a therapist. Asking those you trust and like most allows you to get recommendations that match your personality better, it may also ease some tension and fear when trying to choose someone who works best for you.

Consider Teletherapy

If you can’t drive, or you don’t have dependable transportation, it may be worthwhile to consider a form of teletherapy until you could figure something else out. Services such as TalkSpace cost, but they may ease one into the process of therapy, and they also provide an option for those who are unable to travel to a local therapist’s office. However, you may be able to have your insurance company transport you to your appointments at no extra cost, so it is definitely worth calling and inquiring about those services.

Jane Byrne, project coordinator at a nursing home in Kildare, notes that, “Seeing a therapist may seem scary, especially as a senior citizen, however, it’s not as terrible as you’d believe. Many people see a therapist and are much better off for it. Remember that it’s okay to need to talk about your problems, and doing so is a great way to become happier and healthier.”

Diet vs. Healthy Eating

Our stomach drives our decision on when to eat but it is often our emotions, available time and ease that may drive the decision of what we eat. We are living in a fast-pace society where demands can be high in our career and how we manage our family structures. This makes it hard to take the time to think about eating healthy…or at least that is what we tell ourselves.

There are many diets out there today that give us a guide on what we should eat, taking some of the decisions out of our day. But are those diets sustainable over time? Should we trash the diets and just focus on making healthy decisions?

Healthy eating, along with understanding your health is the answer for long-term success. If you are living with a chronic health condition (including depression, incontinence) keep in mind what food options help manage your condition’s symptoms and implement those options into your meal planning. This shouldn’t add any additional stress or time, and in the long run will potentially save on healthcare dollars and have a positive impact on your overall health.

So what to do next…know your needs. What health conditions are you living with? Are there certain foods that help or hinder your condition? What are you currently eating? And how to you need after? Are you at a healthy weight for your height and age? What areas do you struggle with when it comes to eating? What can you substitute that would be a healthier option?

This is gives you a good starting point. If you need more support please contact our office to work with our Registered Dietitian. She can help make this process simple and achieve your goals. Call us at (970) 204-4331.

Home Hazards…Are they related to falls?

A 2018 study titled, The Potential to Reduce Falls and Avert Costs by Clinically Managing Fall Risk, by Judy A. Stevens, PhD and Robin Lee, PhD, MPH estimated the prevalence of seven fall risk factors and the effectiveness of seven evidence-based fall interventions.

Stevens & Lee defined a “fall risk factor as an attribute or characteristic of an individual that increases the likelihood of a fall occurring”. They go on to say that many fall risk factors are potentially modifiable (e.g. poor balance, mobility problems, impaired vision, and insufficient vitamin D). Contributing factors increase the chance of falls such as the side effects of medications and the presence of home hazards.

Lets take a focus on home hazards. Most of us feel our homes are the place we feel most safe and comfortable. But does that mean our home is truly “safe”. Here are some questions to ask your self to determine where your home sits on the safety spectrum and some techniques you can use to enhance safety.

Can you safely enter and exit your home? 
Do you have stationary chairs with arm rests that do not rock or glide? 
Does every room have a night light? 
Can you read your medication bottles? 
Can you enter and exit your shower or tub without a loss of balance?
Can you transfer to and from your toilet without difficulty? 
Do you have clear pathways throughout the home? 
Are your kitchen goods stored between the height of your knees and your shoulders? 
Are you able to retrieve items from under your bathroom sink with ease? 
Do you have throw rugs picked up? 
Do you know how to use your microwave correctly? 
Do you remember to turn off the stove or oven when finished? 
Are cords clear from being in the walkways? 
Do you know how to use your thermostat? 
Have you been free from falling in the last year?  
Do you take your medication on time consistently? 
Is there a table next to your bed for a light and to set items on? 
Is your carpet and flooring free from tears and ripples? 

Home Safety Strategies:

  1. Remove all scatter rugs, repair frayed carpet, tape or tack down loose carpet edges.
  2. Arrange furniture to allow adequate space for safe walking between and within all rooms.
  3. When using oxygen, do not smoke or use an open flame.
  4. Do not overload circuits – unplug appliances when not in use.
  5. Wear close-fitting sleeves to prevent spills and burns that could happen with loose, long sleeves.
  6. Clean up spills immediately.
  7. Use a step stool or reacher to reach high shelves – do not stand on chairs or stools.
  8. Place safety strips or a non-skid mat in bathtub/shower and install grab bars – do not use soap dishes or towel racks for support when sitting or standing.
  9. Keep closet doors and drawers closed to prevent bruises or tripping.
  10. Keep walking aids within reach and keep a nightlight on or flashlight within reach of your bed.

If you are interested in having an occupational therapist conduct a home safety assessment in your home please contact our office at (970) 204-4331. And keep in mind, most insurance plans cover the visit.

The Potential to Reduce Falls and Avert Costs by Clinically Managing Fall Risk Judy A. Stevens, PhD,1 Robin Lee, PhD, MPH2

Suicide and Depression

Depression is at the top of the list when it comes to suicide. September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and Covell Care would like to bring light to this difficult and often too common issue.

Regardless of age depression can creep in. Depression can be caused by a number of different factors such as change in health, recent loss of a loved one, transition to a new place/home and financial issues. It is up to all of us to keep our eyes and ears open to what those around us are saying and doing to be aware of depression symptoms. That way we can help prevent suicide in our community.

Below are warning signs that the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention offers. What to Watch For if You Feel Someone is at Risk:

If a person talks about:

  • Being a burden to others
  • Feeling trapped
  • Experiencing unbearable pain
  • Having no reason to live
  • Killing themselves

Specific behaviors to look out for include:

  • Increased use of alcohol or drugs
  • Looking for a way to kill themselves, such as searching online for materials or means
  • Acting recklessly
  • Withdrawing from activities
  • Isolating from family and friends
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Visiting or calling people to say goodbye
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Aggression

People who are considering suicide often display one or more of the following moods:

  • Depression
  • Loss of interest
  • Rage
  • Irritability
  • Humiliation
  • Anxiety

Don’t know where to turn? Contact Covell Care to learn about our mobile counseling services. We support people who struggle with depression, anxiety, grief & loss and much more. (970) 204-4331

Pelvic Dysfunction & Aging

Thank you to Guest Blogger and CSU Graduate, Hailey Jungerman.

Although many believe that it is a natural part of ageing, “age doesn’t cause urinary incontinence, age-related changes may predispose an individual” (Garvey 14). Not only is it not a normal part of ageing, but “more than 50 percent of older Americans struggle with incontinence” (Reinberg). It is important to understand that bladder and bowel incontinence is an issue that can go beyond just toileting. As owner Krista Covell-Pierson OTR/L, BCB-PMD points out in her article Are You Addressing Incontinence at Home? An OT’s Guide, “Unaddressed incontinence can lead to the following additional problems: depression, social withdrawal, anxiety, fatigue, increased fall risk, restricted sexual activity, increased expenses for supplies, higher risk of infection, and skin irritation.” All of these things can lead to reduced participation in activities of daily living.

So, how can OT help address incontinence? “Occupational therapists provide a comprehensive approach that looks beyond musculoskeletal skills deficits and recognizes the need for changes in performance patterns, such as habits and routines, while also considering the context and activity demands related to the problem. Additionally, occupational therapy practitioners have the background and training to understand the related distress and provide support for the psychosocial aspects of these disorders” (Neuman et al.).

Krista Covell-Pierson OTR/L explained to me what a normal plan to manage
incontinence would look like. The evaluation will touch on bowel and bladder health. Krista says it is important to look at both as the bladder can affect the bowel and vice versa. The therapist will discuss with the patient about their diet, toileting and leave the patient with incontinence reading material and a voiding diary. From there the rest of the sessions are working on finding the issue and working on the pelvic floor muscles. The therapist will work as an investigator to solve the problem. They will recommend small changes to see if that is helping, and work in stages as to not be overwhelming for the patient. If needed, the therapist can also use a
biofeedback machine to better understand what the pelvic floor muscles are doing and to get patients working them. Though the internal biofeedback is not required, Krista said there is about an 87% rate of improvement over those that do not do the biofeedback.

Incontinence is a serious issue that can lead to a decline in quality of life. It is the number one reason why people put a loved one in an assisted living community as it is draining on the patient as well as any caregivers. Getting the issue resolved can improve the quality of life and keep our loved ones home for longer. If you have any questions regarding incontinence our owner Krista Covell-Pierson is a great resource as she is Board Certified in Biofeedback.

Please call Covell Care and Rehabilitation at (970) 204-4331 to get more information or an appointment scheduled with us to address incontinence.


Citations:
Covell-Pierson, Krista. “Are You Addressing Incontinence at Home? An OT’s Guide.” 2018 National Patient Safety Goals: Communication | MedBridge Blog, Medbridge, 20 Apr. 2018, www.medbridgeeducation.com/blog/2018/04/addressing-incontinence-home-ots-guide/. Garvey, Kathleen A. “Toileting: Making the Most of Our Time in the Bathroom.” MiOTA Conference. 12 Oct. 2015, www.miota.org.
Neumann, B & Tries, J & Plummer, M. (2009). The role of OT in the treatment of incontinence and pelvic floor disorders. OT Practice. 14. 10-1318.
Reinberg, Steven. “Over Half of Seniors Plagued by Incontinence: CDC.” Consumer HealthDay, HealthDay, 25 June 2014.