Florida Seniors and Mental Health

It’s difficult to imagine that while Florida seniors are living longer, an increased amount are drinking and smoking to excess leading to an increase in depression. America’s Health Rankings Annual Report is the longest-running annual assessment of the nation’s health of seniors on a state-by-state basis. Although the 2019 report shows Florida increasing in rank from 30 to 29, there’s still a long way to go. The mental health of seniors continues to be a top concern for Florida, with the state seeing an increase in spending on community support from $799 to $1,154 per senior on average the past three years. These services include delivered meals, adult day care, transportation, etc. There’s no arguing that an increase in spending is beneficial to seniors, but the state still records nearly 8% of seniors reporting frequent mental distress.

Frequent Mental Distress

The Concerning Truth

According to the CDC, seniors do not seek help because they don’t understand that they could feel better with appropriate treatment. Seniors may not make it a priority because they’ve survived long enough without it, or they have an expected mindset when growing up to “handle” their problems themselves. It’s difficult to change the thinking of a senior who has thought the same throughout their life, but it’s important to make sure they are at least educated on the options that are available to them and the benefits of those options. A common response is that a senior or their loved ones didn’t know options were available. Admittedly so, the industry does a poor job informing the public of all the assistance available to them for any given situation.

 Social and Emotional

Losing A Sense of Purpose

At one point in time, the baby boomer generation was the backbone of the country. Having lived through war and hard work ethics, many arrive at a moment that feels like they are losing a sense of purpose. One of the best ways to combat this is volunteer opportunities. The America’s Health Rankings Annual Report found that Florida has a low percentage of volunteer opportunities for seniors. Worse is the number of seniors who didn’t know about volunteer opportunities available to them.

 Life Satisfaction

It's Not All Bad News

Florida has quite a few areas where improvement is needed, but it also has some positive areas. We are the best of all states for diabetes management and the 2nd best for low percentage of falls. Florida also has seen a 32% decrease in food insecurity. This can be one of many factors associated with higher lifespan average since studies show food insecurity being associated with increases in heart attack, high blood pressure, diabetes, and asthma. The size of Florida also allows for a very high number of volunteer opportunities which, as stated before, can influence senior depression.

Let’s Educate First

The good news is there are options for combating the mental health challenges seniors face, and it starts with education. Gathering helpful local resources and presenting them to a senior gives them the opportunity to understand, consider, and decide if they want to participate. Encouragement may be needed by gently presenting the pros and cons of a senior’s decision. Thankfully, the internet has made finding local resources easier than before. A simple Google search will provide results to questions someone has concerning volunteer opportunities, support groups, etc. A senior can also bring their concerns to a primary doctor.

For the past 25 years VIP America’s mission has been to embrace the commitment of helping people stay independent by compassionately and skillfully servicing our clients and caregivers at their point of need.  Whether it is for help with home care for seniors or a question about resources available to help, we welcome your call.  We are familiar with many of the community resources available to seniors and will be happy to provide more information.  For service throughout central, southeast, and southwest Florida, don’t hesitate to call us at +888-343-9205.