Program helps seniors' behavioral health


DECATUR, Ill. (WAND)- A program at Decatur Memorial Hospital aims to help older adults with emotional or behavioral problems.

For about two years, the hospital’s Senior Behavioral Health Services has provided in-patient treatment for seniors from nursing homes and other backgrounds.

Lots of times, patients come to us that are not communicating with their caregivers,” said Stephanie van Ulft, the program’s medical director. “They're combative. They're disruptive to the people around them. So the goals for patients on our unit is to be able to communicate in a group, to express their needs in ways other than yelling or screaming or hitting."

More recently, the program has added an out-patient program.

Most of those patients have problems with anxiety, depression, perhaps a new phase in their life, grieving after the death of a loved one," said executive director Marti Tolliver.

The National Council on Aging reports about a quarter of seniors suffer from mental or emotional conditions, including anxiety and depression.

One thing that I think is perhaps a misunderstanding is that you, as you get older, it is part of aging that you will be depressed or anxious. That's not true,” van Ulft said.

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