This is not the first time we've written about the Older Adult Transitional Services and the Older Adult Resource Center at El Camino Hospital. But the information is good enough to bear repeating.
An unfortunate consequence of living longer seems to be the inevitability of health problems. Sometimes it seems the longer a person lives, the less capable their body becomes. But health education and disease prevention help, and the older adult services and resources at El Camino Hospital provide help with both.
Perhaps the most basic necessity is maintaining mental health. Seniors are often embarrassed to discuss depression. But, according to the office of the National Depression Screening Day, more than two million Americans, 65 and older, suffer some form of depression. Those with physical illnesses are at greater risk for developing depression.
According to Patty Kenny, a nurse specialist in gerontology at El Camino Hospital, symptoms of depression include feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, a lack of interest in things that would normally be interesting and enjoyable, extreme fatigue, excessive sleep, or unusual appetite changes - eating either much more, or much less. Kenny said that initial screening for depression can be done over the phone.
In her six years on the staff of the Mental Health Program at El Camino Hospital, Kenny said, "I see people enter the program being so ill that they have a difficult time providing for their basic needs. Ninety percent of them return to their previous function level and have hope again."
Education and prevention are also goals at the Older Adult Resource Center. The Over 55 membership program is free and provides access to the health library, health screenings, wellness programs and support groups that range from pain management to lupus to Lyme disease.
Carla Paul, director for community health services, said that other programs include blood screening, foot diagnosis, and health insurance education. Paul also said that three counselors are available for private appointments to help prepare paperwork for durable power of attorney for health care.
The core function of the referral center has become elder care or care-giving assistance, Paul said, and the staff can help family members with care-giving development, management and planning.
This Saturday, the Center will offer a thousand free flu shots.
For more information, call 940-7138 or contact the Older Adult Resource Center at 988-7622.