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Older Adult Mental Wellness

Older Adult mental health information, resources and programs.

Mental wellness

Depression is NOT a normal part of aging.

While a lot of older adults report feelings of emotional well-being, as many as one in five experiences symptoms of depression and anxiety. Because mental health can have a significant impact on your quality of life, relationships and overall health, it’s just as important to seek care for mental health issues as it is for physical health issues.

Mental health includes emotional, psychological and social well-being. Learn more about taking care of your mental health.

Warning signs of depression or anxiety:

  • Noticeable changes in mood, energy level or appetite
  • Feeling flat or having trouble feeling positive emotions
  • Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Difficulty concentrating, feeling restless, or on edge
  • Increased worry or feeling stressed
  • Anger, irritability or aggressiveness
  • Ongoing headaches, digestive issues
  • Unexplained pain
  • Increased use of alcohol or drugs
  • Sadness or hopelessness
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Thoughts or behaviors that interfere with work, family, or social life

Mental health issues can be treated: If you are unsure where to go for help, ask your family doctor or visit Washington County's Behavioral Health webpage.

Communicating well with your health care provider can improve your care and help you both make good choices about your health. Read about tips to help prepare and get the most out of your visit. For additional resources, including questions to ask your health care provider, visit the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

If you or someone you know is in a crisis, get help immediately by calling the Washington County Crisis Line at 503-291-9111.

Loneliness and isolation

What is loneliness?

Social isolation can be measured by the number of personal contacts a person has. Loneliness is the feeling of distress that results from a lack of social contact and/or meaningful relationships. Older adults are particularly at risk.

Social isolation and loneliness are both associated with negative physical and mental health consequences.

Older adult risk factors

Individual

  • Chronic condition
  • Sensory impairment
  • Limited resources
  • Trauma
  • More likely to live alone
  • Increasing frailty
  • Loss of spouse/partner
  • Outliving friends
  • Loss of employment
  • Caregiving role

Community

  • Lack of employment and volunteer opportunities
  • Stigma, ageism, discrimination
  • Lack of transportation options
  • Lack of age-friendly live-able community

Are you lonely? Take this quiz to find out if you or someone you know may be feeling lonely or isolated: Connect2Affect Quiz.

Do you know someone experiencing isolation or loneliness?

Connect to Affect! Just reaching out to someone else can help make you and them feel better. Here are some resources to help you connect with others.

Oregon Senior Peer Outreach Line: 1-833-736-4676

Weekly phone-based support and connection with Community Support Solutions. This free service is available to Washington County older adults (55+) experiencing symptoms of loneliness or isolation. Participants are matched with a trained peer support specialist and receive scheduled weekly phone calls. Se habla espanol.

Oregon Senior Loneliness Line: 503-200-1633

Available 24/7 with Lines for Life. Trained volunteers offer support and connection at any time for older adults experiencing loneliness and isolation. Available in multiple languages.

COVID-19 Community Counseling Program

Washington County has a COVID-19 supportive counseling program. The COVID-19 Community Counseling Program (CCCP) is a partnership between Washington County, Lifeworks NW, Western Psychological, Asian Health and Service Center, and Lutheran Community Services NW. CCCP provides support to Washington County community members who need help related to the pandemic. To request an appointment, email [email protected] or call Washington County Behavioral Health at 503-846-4528.

Tips for reducing anxiety

  • Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol and drugs. Attend live, online exercise classes for free with Washington County and the Juanita Pohl Center.
  • Make time to unwind and remind yourself that strong feelings will fade. Take breaks from watching, reading or listening to news stories. It can be upsetting to hear about the crisis and see images repeatedly. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.
  • Connect with others using technology. Share your concerns and how you are feeling with a friend or family member. Do you need help accessing technology in order to connect with your community? Call the ADRC at 1-855-673-2372 to find out more about technology access resources available to older adults in our community.
  • Keep things in perspective. Maintain a sense of hope, purpose and positive thinking as much as possible. Remember, this crisis will end. In the meantime, Get Trained to Help Others in need.

Grief support

Grief is a natural response to loss. Many people in our community are currently grieving the loss of daily routines, jobs, financial stability, a sense of security, the loss of loved ones. Some community members may be grieving the loss of a co-worker, friend or loved one. This grief may include not being able to mourn in ways we are familiar with, such as attending funerals or memorial services.

Here are a few ways to cope with grief:

  • Acknowledge your pain.
  • Understand that grief can bring many different and unexpected emotions.
  • Seek out virtual support.
  • Limit isolation (we know this is difficult to do right now).
  • Take care of your health with good nutrition, physical activity and getting enough sleep.

With so many people in our community experiencing grief it is important to know that you are not alone. There are additional resources and support available to help you.

No cost programs for help with late-life depression

Photo of an isolated older adult

Program to Encourage Active Rewarding Lives for Seniors (PEARLS)

  • Eight sessions of in-home counseling followed by series of telephone-based support by counselor or peer mentor.
  • Teaches depression management techniques, goal setting, problem-solving and social activation.
  • Free for Washington County residents 55+.

Contact Oregon Senior Peer Outreach for more information on PEARLS at 1-833-736-4676.

How do you connect with someone who is isolated or lonely?

Timeslips Creative Engagement™ for connection through dementia

As a Certified Creative Community of Care™, Washington County is proud to offer Timeslips™ Creative Engagement Program for families and special training for Professionals and Community Skill Building.

What would a conversation look like with someone who is dealing with the challenges of dementia? Timeslips™ is a program that uses creative engagement techniques that help inspire connections through the art of joyful, non-judgmental, open-ended conversation. Learn how to reframe everyday interactions into opportunities for meaningful connection, storytelling and creativity.

Learn how to create more community. Contact the Family Caregiver Support Program for more information. Timeslips is great for:

  • Family caregivers
  • Faith Communities
  • Aging Service Organizations
  • Community Organizations
  • Intergenerational groups

Watch a short video and learn more about Timeslips™ at https://timeslips.org.

Connection in action!

Read about the Washington County DAVS 2020 Virtual Art show: Bringing the Outside In.

Meaningful community engagement

Stay connected - Proximity doesn't equal connection. Many faith communities, senior and community centers and libraries offer programs and activities with others over the phone or by video. Attend a Death Café or Age Café with Washington County and the Beaverton Library to learn about and discuss interesting and relevant topics with others. Check the DAVS Community Calendar for current event listings.

Support Groups and Older Adult Programs with NAMI Washington County - The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) works with Washington County Disability, Aging and Veteran Services to provide support, education and programming to older adults experiencing loneliness, isolation, anxiety or depression. Learn more about what's available at https://washconami.org.

More resources for older adult behavioral health

  • Hoarding Task Force and resources for help with excessive clutter and collecting.
  • Suicide Prevention classes and training requests at Get Trained To Help.
  • Death Cafe, talk about death, learn about life, eat cake.
  • Project Visibility for LGBTQ+ Older Adults, training for groups and organizations, email Kera Magarill.
  • We have more information on dementia, loneliness, and older adult mental health! Connect with us to find a training that meets the needs of your group or organization at (503) 846-3060.

This page is made possible through the Oregon Older Adult Behavioral Health Initiative. To learn more, visit https://oregonbhi.org.