Senior Life Solutions offers mental health help

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Topic of the Month for June is coping with anxiety

Senior Life Solutions is now offering monthly mental health tips for area seniors.

This month, Therapist Susi Rhoads, MSW, LCSW, is sharing tips on coping with anxiety. The information is available for both seniors and anyone who would benefit.

Rhoads describes anxiety as a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.

"The signs are there — the beginnings of a massive headache, neck and shoulder tension, shortness of breath, a fluttering sensation in your chest, clenched jaw, increasing thoughts of 'What next?' and that feeling of dread in the pit of your stomach," she said. "Anxiety can steal your peace of mind, keep you awake at night, destroy relationships, cost you your job, and even send you to the ER. Here in Cassville, at the Senior Life Solutions program, I frequently see clients who are requesting counseling to help with their overall emotional well-being."

Senior Life Solutions is an intensive outpatient group therapy program designed to meet the unique needs of older adults suffering from symptoms of depression and anxiety often related to aging.

"As I begin to work with patients and teach them about self-care, they are surprised to learn that something as simple as breathing can free them from anxiety’s tyranny," Rhoads said. "But, doesn’t everybody tell you to just breathe? Never worked before, right? Well, there is breathing and there is deep breathing. Learning to breathe in a specific manner makes all the difference. You are retraining your nervous system, learning to respond with something besides fight, flight or freeze, and restoring balance."

Rhoads said she explains to patients that the deep breathing exercise is like learning to ride a bike. "Remember trying to balance, pedal and steer, all at once?" she said. "Proper breathing, and taking the time to do so may feel awkward at first and takes practice, but when everything finally clicks, you are off and running. It doesn’t take batteries, chargers, or cords, is completely portable, is invisible to everybody else and once you’ve mastered the skills, they are yours for life."

Rhoads said patients generally master the basic skill set quickly, then hone their skills with entertaining visualizations, activities and games. They learn how to incorporate their new skills into everyday activities so that it becomes second nature to practice deep breathing.

"Suddenly, they find they have a sense of control, a new found freedom and a wonderful feeling of mastery when they can use the skills acquired to provide self-care," she said. "Thereby, transforming anxiety into peace."

Founded in 2003, Psychiatric Medical Care (PMC), which operates the Senior Life Solutions outpatient program and Green Oak Behavioral Health inpatient facilities, runs inpatient and outpatient programs located in rural communities across the country. Founder and Chief Medical Officer, James A. Greene, M.D., a geriatric psychiatrist, was born and raised in a rural community, which today hosts a rural hospital. 

He developed PMC with the sole mission to improve the quality of life of older adults living in rural communities. PMC is one of the largest geriatric mental health management companies within rural hospitals across the United States. 

Senior Life Solutions is dedicated to improving the quality of life for seniors in the community. For more information, people may call its Cassville office at 417-847-6042.

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