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Many Older Montanans Face Mental Health Challenges
About 10,000 Americans turn 65 each day. That’s good news, as many of us continue to lead healthy, purposeful and productive lives. But health challenges remain, especially as we exit the worst pandemic seen in over a century. A recent AARP survey reveals older adults are poised to bounce back after the pandemic has taken its toll on their mental and emotional well-being. However, a deeper dive suggests some older adults may benefit from help with managing their emotional and mental well-being.
While most older adults say their emotional and mental health is very good, many say they have been bothered by anxiety and depression -- these resources may help.
Even in a world without COVID-19, depression is more common and more severe in both older adults, especially those 70 and older, and those living below the federal poverty level. Here are some actions that can help ease depressive symptoms during times of stress:
- Stay Connected. Reach out to friends and loved ones that may be lonely or isolated. Call frequently and schedule visits or video chats if available. AARP has also compiled 7 ways to engage in meaningful activities with your loved ones.
- RESOURCES TO STAY CONNECTED:
- AARP Foundation Connect 2 Affect -- Tools to help you or a loved one overcome social isolation
- Montana 2-1-1 connects you with community resources, services, and assistance.
- The AARP Montana Facebook Page helps you connect to others with shared interests and contains the latest updates and news.
- AARP Community Connections helps people stay in touch. By providing some contact information, people can receive a friendly check-in call from an AARP volunteer.
- RESOURCES TO STAY CONNECTED:
- Exercise regularly. Exercise is one of the most effective non-drug treatments for depression. Go for a walk, get on a yoga mat, do some weight-bearing exercises, or try an AARP exercise video.
- Practice mindfulness and meditation. Practicing deep breathing, mindfulness, and meditation can all help calm anxiety and negative thoughts. Many websites and apps offer guided sessions. Try free apps such as Calm; Breethe; Insight Timer; UCLA Mindful; and Mindfulness Coach, from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
MONTANA HELPLINES, RESOURCE GUIDES AND CLINICS:
Help is within Reach. If you or someone you know is unable to engage in normal daily activities and needs additional help, you have a number of additional possible resources available.
- The Montana Warmline at 1-877-688-3377 is available 8 a.m. - 9 p.m. (M - F) and noon - 9 p.m. (on weekends). It is a state-funded phone line for people in crisis who need emotional support. For more information visit: http://montanawarmline.org/
- Montana 24 Hour Lifeline: If you are in crisis and want help, call the Montana Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 24/7, at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)
- Montana Department of Public Health & Human Services
- Montana Mental Heath Ombudsman: 1-888-444-9669
- Mental Health Services Helpline: 1-888-866-0328
- State Health and Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP): 1-800-551-3191
- Comprehensive List of Montana Hotline Numbers
- Montana State University Extension "Get Help Now" Resource Page
- Montana County Mental Health Resource Guides
- Intermountain -- Nationally recognized nonprofit providing hope & healing to children, families and now adults in need of improved mental health.
MONTANA COMMUNITY HEALTH CENTERS
There are 16 federally-funded health center organizations in Montana with 76 delivery sites across the state. Community Health Health centers serve everyone regardless of ability to pay or insurance status.
- To find a Community Health Center in your area:
- Billings: The Community Health Center serving Yellowstone County is known as RiverStone Health
- Bozeman: The Community Health Center Serving Gallatin County is known as Community Health Partners
- Butte: The Community Health Center Serving Silver Bow County is known as Southwest Montana Community Health Center
- Great Falls: The Community Health Center serving Cascade County is known as Alluvion Health
- Helena: The Community Heath Center serving Lewis and Clark County is known as PureView Health Center
- Kalispell: The Community Health Center serving Flathead County is the Flathead City-County Health Department
- Western Montana: The Community Health Center serving Western Montana is known as Partnership Health Center: 406-532-8949
MONTANA FOOD ASSISTANCE RESOURCES:
Because good nutrition is linked to mental wellness, it's important to maintain a healthy diet.
- If financial difficulty is a barrier to food, the Montana Food Bank Network can help you find your closest food bank and other food assistance programs in your area.
- The Montana Food Bank Network offers a program called Mail-A-Meal to reach food insecure Montanans in rural, remote, low population areas.
- The Aging Services Division of the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Resources offers a comprehensive list of services for seniors, including Nutrition Services, like home delivered meals.
- The State of Montana offers the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- Area Agencies on Aging – You can reach your local AAA office by calling 1-800-551-3191. There are 10 offices across the state and they can connect you with home meal delivery and/or grocery shopping services available near your home. Check out their webpage at www.m4a.support.
INFORMATION & RESOURCES FOR THOSE WITH LOVED ONES IN NURSING HOMES:
Because of the high proportion of nursing home residents with a mental illness other than dementia, the quality of mental health care in nursing homes is a major concern for patients, families and loved ones.
- Find & compare nursing homes, hospitals & other providers near you This tool provides a single source search and compare experience that lets you find ratings and information about providers and facilities based on your individual needs.
- Have a nursing home complaint? Meet your long-term care ombudsman
- Montana Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program
- Where to turn for help if you suspect elder abuse
- Finding the Right Long-Term Care for Your Loved One
- Receive a Free Family Caregiving Guide from AARP Montana
If you’re in need, several services are available 24/7, 365 days per year. Here are some examples:
- In an emergency.
- 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline - Beginning earlier this year, anyone contemplating suicide or experiencing emotional distress may call, text or chat the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline to speak with a trained counselor who can provide support and connect them to local resources if necessary. Like the 911 emergency service, the number is staffed 24/7 nationwide, with a network of over 200 state and local crisis call centers. Website: https://988lifeline.org
- Call 911 if you or someone you know is in immediate danger of hurting themselves or others.
- The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation. SAMHSA’s National Helpline: Call 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
- A free and confidential treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders.
- National Institute of Mental Health Crisis text hotline: Text “HELLO” to 741741
- This text line serves anyone, in any type of crisis, connecting them with a crisis counselor who can provide support and information.
- Veterans Crisis Line: Call 1-800-273-8255 and press ‘1’ or text 828255. Those with hearing loss can call 1-800-799-4889
- A free, confidential resource that connects veterans with a trained responder. The service is available to all veterans, even if they are not registered with the VA or enrolled in VA healthcare.
- The VA Unveils New PREVENTS Site for Mental Health & Suicide Prevention During Pandemic
- Disaster Distress Helpline: Call 1-800-985-5990 or text “TalkWithUs” to 66746
- This free, confidential, and multilingual helpline provides immediate crisis counseling for people who are experiencing emotional distress related to any natural or human-caused disaster.
- Expanded telehealth. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Medicare expanded its telehealth services and relaxed some restrictions to make accessing these services, including mental health counseling, easier for beneficiaries. Many private insurance plans offer therapy via telehealth as well, so contact your insurance company or check their website to learn more about their resources.
If you or someone you know in Montana is suspected of being a victim of elder exploitation, fraud, abuse or neglect contact Adult Protective Services in the Senior, Veterans, and Long Term Care Services Division of the Montana Department of Health and Human Services. Montana specialists help protect vulnerable adults and elders from abuse, neglect, and exploitation, by working closely with the courts, law enforcement, public health services, mental health services, and other community groups.
To make a report of suspected elder abuse, neglect or exploitation call: 1 (844) 277-9300. Or make a report online by visiting: Montana Senior & Long Term Care Division.