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PANIC IN SENIOR PARK

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The following blog is not for the seniors who are well ensconced in funds, family, and resources. Due to addiction, mental illness, and borderline poverty, marginalized seniors suffering from addiction, mental illness, and borderline poverty should pay close attention here.

Suppose you found life hard when you were young and relatively strong. Now your strength is ebbing away. The beauty you exude withering and compromised with time. The world looks more and more like a frightening place every day. Sometimes, you just can’t figure anything out. 

Those senior moments! The moments of space where the right word, name, and memory used to be, are becoming more frequent.

The aging population is not homogenous. Aging people and the growing number of older people intersect with the mental health system and its constituents. Together, mentally ill older folks make up a vastly vulnerable subgroup with specific needs. 

The youth benefit from new medications, therapies, doctors, and specialized hospitals. During COVID and the rise of telehealth, treating anxiety in Zoom calls and online treatment was easy and made it even easier to be alone with your symptoms.

As the darkness inherent in the aging process continues, and your saving account begins to empty, the reality of scarcity beings to foment. The inevitable vulnerability of old age seems perilously close to home.

The first thing to do is, take stock. Do you have all the benefits you need? Do you have rental subsidies, use food stamps, and need medical care? You may want to see what you are missing. Can you apply for transportation benefits, long-term care, nursing, or home health aides? Find out where you can use and do it. Many insurance carriers have case management. Make the phone call and find out while you can still recognize the phone number.

There are agencies in New York, and other places explicitly created for the elderly. They provide advocacy, counseling, and defense against abuse. Find these agencies. Have their information close at hand.

Maybe you are in your fifties or early sixties. The time to be vigilant is now. Plan your future while you can.

Don’t stop walking if you still can—practice balance exercises. Forego silly social events for time alone, reading and learning. Perform an internet search and do some research. 

Exercise and movement are a great way to delay the damaging effects of a sedentary old age. Regarding retrieving medication, food, and other necessities, utilize the growing number of delivery services. Pharmacies, supermarkets, and different types of stores now have delivery services available.

Use your social contacts. Your collaterals, friends, family, and younger people are vital and valuable counselors for information.  

Be good with medical documentation. You may need a will. An excellent start to end-of-life care and medical planning is a health care proxy. A proxy is somebody that will make health decisions when you can’t.

Have a specific plan for end-of-life medical decisions and a burial. I know it turns people’s stomachs to deal with these things, but you’ll feel better when you make some plans for the final hallway and exit.

Now, the fun part. After all the logistics are taken care of, it is time to relax. 

What is your bucket list? What kind of pleasures can you indulge in now that you never would before?

Take responsibility for your winter years. Go ahead and eat the ice cream your doctor forbade because this is a time to indulge.

Have a good time to the extent you can. Purchase that bouquet you never wanted to spend $20.00 on for roses, ferns, and wildflowers.

Enjoy every activity your health allows for, even ones that also have conditions and penalties.

You may have more time than you think, but dont live your life, think, or plan that way! 

About the Author

Ember Manos Belle

Ember Manos Belle is a 'Systems Advocate' and Behavioral Health Therapist in the NYC area. Ember is the author of Climbing Towards November (2009), and Pause in the Western Rhythm (2019).
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