For millions of senior citizens in the United States, coping with the challenges of psychiatric and emotional issues can be a battle that may often be fought in isolation and secrecy, leaving many to live their golden years suffering in silence. But a unique day hospitalization program at Wesley Woods Center is helping individuals to recognize and overcome many of these challenges.
The Wesley Woods Transitions Partial Hospitalization Program is designed to provide intensive therapy to older adults 60 and older who are experiencing emotional and psychiatric distress. Through the program, participants attend group sessions each weekday, but return home evenings and on weekends. This allows intensive therapeutic experience while the individual is able to maintain the highest level of involvement and support within his or her home and community, according to Ed Lawrence, program director.
"We are the only senior-specific partial program in the metro Atlanta area," says Lawrence. "Many adult partial programs at other facilities tend to mix their seniors in with the general populations - such as addiction diagnosis for age groups between 21 and 55. The elderly patient, however, tends to have many of their special needs not addressed in that type of therapeutic process. Our program is structured solely for the senior population."
Lawrence notes, "We find that as people age, they tend to deal with more issues associated with depression, grief, anger and frustration. They see friends and family members pass away. Some individuals begin to lose mobility and independence, while others express resentment toward a loved one who they may perceive as taking control of his or her life in one way or another.
"Many individuals deal with physical pain, which further limits their level of activity and erodes their quality of life," explains Lawrence. "This program allows these individuals to share their experiences, thoughts and frustrations in a group setting - among peers who understand what others are going through first hand."
The Transitions program runs between two and six weeks, depending on the individual's needs and issues. The small groups, which typically range between 10 and 12 individuals, meets daily from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Lunch is provided and free transportation is provided to anyone living within a 25-mile radius of Wesley Woods.
Daily program schedules are broken into six different categories, including psychotherapy, cognitive therapy, grief and loss, affect management, self-esteem and relapse prevention. In addition to the general group therapy sessions, Lawrence says that individual and family education sessions can also be established as needed.
In order to take part in the program, a person may be referred by a physician, a non-physician clinician or a family member. Upon referral, the individual will undergo a complete psychosocial assessment to ensure that the program addresses his or needs. Assessments include discussion of current problems, observable changes in daily activities, medical/emotional problems and issues that might be of concern to the patient. Following the assessment, a personalized treatment plan and schedule is then established.
"Once an individual is referred and recommended to participate in the program, he or she will find a full interdisciplinary treatment team consisting of physicians, social workers, therapists and psychiatric/mental health nurses, and others. During the first week, the team will develop a treatment plan that identifies problems, goals and approaches of therapy," says Lawrence. "This plan will be reviewed every week for progress or changes."
The Transitions Program is typically covered financially through Medicare and Medicaid, in combination with other supplemental programs offered through organizations such as AARP, for example.
For more information about the program, please visit www.emoryhealthcare.org (keywords: Transitions Senior Program) or call 404-728-4776.