Now in its fifth year, Senior Reach is an expanding Axis Health System program for La Plata County adults over age 60.
Senior Reach is having a profound impact in the community and has proven highly successful in decreasing depression, anxiety and feelings of hopelessness and social isolation among seniors. The program offers support for the well-being, independence and dignity of older adults through community education, mental health services and connection to local resources.
“With this older generation, medical and mental health challenges are intertwined,” said Anne DiZenzo, LCSW, Senior Reach Therapist. “Addressing one issue at a time in a concrete manner can help untangle the web of uncertainty that can surround their lives.” DiZenzo said helping people connect with housing options, tax services, medical resources or community programs such as Meals on Wheels can alleviate anxiety and depression for many older adults.
Although the goal was to serve 30 seniors during in 2022, there were 51 older adults served. It is noteworthy that 13 of these clients were diagnosed with some form of dementia. The Senior Reach program was able to help these individuals access services and provide their family members with support and education regarding this diagnosis and how to support people with dementia.
Due to the high volume of Senior Reach clients, two interns were brought on during the past year to assist with part-time case management and counseling services. The program recently hired one part-time case manager and plans to hire a full-time case manager. Interested applicants can learn about this position on the Axis Health System job board.
Axis continues to use a Senior Reach call center to accept referrals, host community trainings and provide assertive outreach, services, case management and brief therapy in the patient’s home.
“This past year was significantly more challenging due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said DiZenzo. “My clients faced significant challenges, particularly in terms of service provision, due to having fewer staff members available and fewer offices open.”
DiZenzo said the program has supported several seniors with suicidal ideation, as increased suicide risk tends to go hand in hand with increasingly complex medical issues in older adults. This program has also helped several seniors struggling with financial concerns by helping them to consolidate their bills, contact agencies for support or develop the skills and confidence to return to the work force. Other challenges have included serving an increasing number of seniors who are struggling with significant chemical dependency issues, homelessness and law enforcement involvement.
“Because I can visit with older adults in their homes, health care becomes more attainable for them, is more cost-effective when delivered in this manner and, in many cases, allows seniors to stay in their homes as long as possible,” said DiZenzo.
If you want to refer an older adult, volunteer as a community partner or get more information about Senior Reach or issues that impact an older adults’ health, contact Senior Reach staff at 970.335.2217. Services are available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Signs someone may need assistance
- Confusion, disorientation
- Difficulty seeing, hearing, walking
- Recent loss of a spouse
- Anxious, depressed
- Withdrawn or isolated
- Loss of appetite
- Unkempt, dirty clothes
- Home needs repair
- Trash or mail being neglected
- Confused about money matters