Combating senior depression

Reporter: Shannon Samson

The National Mental Health Association says depression affects six million Americans age 65 and older, but only ten percent receive any treatment. Gibson General Hospital is trying to change that with its hope house senior enrichment program.

People over the age of 65 usually know loss all too well. They lose jobs, homes, spouses, children, friends, and in many case, their independence. Many are left struggling to fill their days with something meaningful. The Hope House at Gibson General is helping seniors move forward.

These days are much sunnier for, 70-year-old, Diane Turpin now that she's free from the gloom she felt after she retired from her job, buried her husband and started having health problems of her own.

Diane Turin, Hope House patient, says,  "Well, I felt like I was in a black hole and I just couldn't get out."

The Hope House's senior enrichment program serves patients who have no where else to turn.

Tony Heim, RN/VP & Chief Nursing Officer, says,  "Once you rule out anything physical and it's not getting any better, then a program like this is perfect."

Patients are evaluated by a psychiatrist to determine if they need medication. Then, they go to daily, intensive outpatient therapy four days a week for six to eight weeks. Much of the patients time it is spent in group therapy.

Turpin, says, "I found out that there were other people having the same problems that I did, and I thought I was the only one that had them."

Patients get lunch every day, which can be critical to improving their health since many seniors who live alone simply stop cooking for themselves.

Heim, says, "That alone helps you physically, which helps you mentally because it all fits together."

Diane completed the program in January. Since then, she has more energy and finds herself constantly on the go but always mindful of where she found her strength .

Turpin, says, "You know the song that you sing at church, 'where would this ship be if it wasn't for the lighthouse?' I feel like where would this ship be if it wasn't for the Hope House? Where would I be if it wasn't for the Hope House?"

The Hope House accepts referrals from doctors and individuals. Transportation is provided for patients who live within a 40-mile radius of the hospital.

Medicare covers 80 percent of the cost of the program. Most secondary insurances cover the rest. They do what they can to help eliminate the financial worries because they know that can be a huge source of stress for seniors.

When to contact hope house:

If you know someone, aged 65 and older, who is suffering from one or more of the following issues, feel free to call Hope House at (812) 385-1704.

. Decreased ability to cope with change
. Ongoing problems with grief or loss
. Inability to adjust to retirement
. Social withdrawal, loneliness or isolation
. Loss of energy
. Difficulty sleeping
. Changes in eating habits or appetite
. Deterioration of daily living skills
. Feelings of anxiety or depression
. Problems adjusting to changes in physical health or need for medication
. Abuse of alcohol or medications
. Failing memory, confusion or difficulty concentrating
. Numerous, unexplained physical ailments
. Marked personality changes over time
. Suicidal thoughts