Every county has an elder (also known as elder abuse) agency that will look into reported incidents of abuse, neglect, financial exploitation and self neglect. Call your County Help Line if you need to talk to someone about suspected abuse of an elder (age 60 and over). To report abuse of an adult age 18 to 59, contact your county agency.
Data and Reports
Older Adults: Suicide Prevention Resource Center
Suicide is an important problem among older adults. Suicide rates are particularly high among older men, with men ages 85 and older having the highest rate of any group in the country. Suicide attempts by older adults are much more likely to result in death than among younger persons.
Suicide in Late Life: Unique Factors and Enduring Treatment Gaps
Risk Factors Highlighted:
- Untreated mental illness (especially depression)
- Depression manifests differently
- Sadness is not as common for older adults with depression
- Depression symptoms to look out for - Loss of appetite, sleep, loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
- Limited social support/social isolation
- Perceptions of "being a burden"
- Feelings of loss of independence or sense of purpose
- Family discord or losses (i.e. recent death of a loved one)
- Alcohol or medication misuse or abuse
- Impulsivity due to cognitive impairment
A Systematic Review of Elderly Suicide Prevention Programs
Lapierre et al. (2011) carried out a systematic review to examine the results of interventions aimed at suicidal elderly persons and to identify successful strategies and areas needing further exploration. Conclusions: Innovative strategies should improve resilience and positive aging, engage family and community gatekeepers, use telecommunications to reach vulnerable older adult, and evaluate the effects of means restriction and physicians education on elderly suicide. Read the report for details.
Programs and Resources for Caregivers
NCOA (National Council on Aging) Behavioral Health Page
Webinar: Using the Senior Reach Program to Address Risk Factors for Suicide Among older Adults
Experts share information about Senior Reach, a program that focuses on creating linkages between agencies, businesses, and communities to provide emotional and physical support for older adults. Specific suicide risk screening strategies and tips to improve the provision of behavioral health services to older adults are shared.
Webinar: A Spotlight on Older Adults and Behavioral Health
Listen to this webinar for an update on behavioral health topics relevant to older adults from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), including the latest national data on depression, suicide, and substance abuse or misuse. A description of the Mental Health Association of New York City’s (MHA-NYC) initiatives to improve access to behavioral health services for older adults is also shared.
Healthy IDEAS (Identifying Depression Empowering Activities for Seniors)
Healthy IDEAS is an evidence-based depression self-management program designed to detect and reduce the severity of depressive symptoms in older adults with chronic conditions and functional limitations. It includes screening and assessment, education, referral to appropriate health professionals, and behavioral activation. Organizations that provide case management or care coordination services to community-dwelling older adults are best suited to implement the Healthy IDEAS program.
PEARLS (Program to Encourage Active, Rewarding Lives for Seniors)
PEARLS is a highly effective method designed to reduce depressive symptoms and improve quality of life in older adults and in all-age adults with epilepsy. During six to eight in-home sessions that take place in the client’s home and focus on brief behavioral techniques, PEARLS counselors empower individuals to take action and make lasting changes so that they can lead more active and rewarding lives.
Promoting Emotional Health and Preventing Suicide: A Toolkit for Senior Centers (PDF)
Equips senior living staff with resources to promote mental health and prevent suicide and encourage active participation among residents. Includes guidelines for integrating suicide prevention into ongoing programs, hands-on tools, and training manuals. Available in English and Spanish.
Resources for Native American/Indigenous Elders
Native Elder Caregiving Curriculum
Development of the Native Elder Caregiver Curriculum has been guided by an awareness of Tribal reservation communities, as well as a mindfulness of the historically rich traditions and strengths of American Indian nations. From the National Resource on Native American Aging. This Curriculum is a tool to assist family and community members, as well as CHRs, who have the responsibility of caring for their elders.
WELL-Balanced (Wise Elders Living Longer)
WELL-Balanced is a group program designed specifically for Native American elders. The program uses exercise, information, and social interaction to help elders remain active and independent in their own homes as long as possible. It is designed to help elders: Prevent falls Manage diabetes, arthritis, and hypertension, Engage in social activity, Increase their level of exercise, Develop strategies for independent living and most important, have fun.