Uplift program eases depression among older adults

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Older woman with walker

About four years ago, Council on Aging and the Butler County Mental Health Board decided to do more to combat the depression we were seeing in older adults, which­­ - for many - was darkening their final years and damaging their health.

The result has been a program called Uplift which is provided by Community Behavioral Health in Butler County with 50/50 funding from Council on Aging and Butler County Mental Health Board. It is available to eligible residents of Butler County.

Since its beginning in late 2009, Uplift has helped more than 500 seniors and is one of the largest programs of its kind in the U.S., according to Dr. Scott Rasmus, Associate Executive Director of Evaluation & Quality Assurance for the Butler County Mental Health Board.

“The program has been remarkably successful,” Rasmus said. “The most recent report shows that after 13 sessions, nearly 75 percent of older adults experienced a statistically significant decrease in their levels of depression and 91 percent showed some level of improvement. Uplift makes a difference in quality of life.”

One element that distinguishes Uplift from other mental health services for older adults is that counseling and therapy can be provided in the home or any location of the client’s choosing. It often helps people who are too frail to go regularly to a clinic or therapist’s office. Also, most clients are people of relatively modest means, who might otherwise be unable to pay for the help they need.

About 70 percent of those served are clients of the Butler County Elderly Services Program, a tax levy-funded, in home care program administered by Council on Aging.

Increasingly, doctors, mental health professionals and researchers recognize that depression is not a normal part of aging. Many seniors suffer needlessly for years. Often, their mental health problems go unrecognized or they’re afraid of stigma or they have no way to get help. Recently, there have been accounts of depression or other mental health problems emerging among World War II combat veterans when triggered by some other traumatic event, such as the death of a spouse.

In June, NPR ran a story about research showing that when people get depressed in middle age and beyond, they’re more likely to develop dementia in old age.

Uplift helps people set goals and identify opportunities to create positive changes in their lives. It can help clients reduce stress, stay active, improve mood, reduce anxiety, encourage a healthy sleep schedule and enhance overall quality of life.

To participate in Uplift, a person must be For more information about Uplift, contact Leslie Brody, Program Supervisor, at (513) 868-5126 or lbrody@cbh-services.org.