When it comes to the well-being of our senior community, we generally think about physical health and housing. But mental health is just as vital in our later years as any other stage of life. One-third of Sonoma’s population are seniors. For the Hub, this means that caring for Sonoma’s mental health, means caring for senior mental health.

The Quiet Struggle
Approximately 20% of adults over 60 experience a mental or neurological disorder; the most common are depression, anxiety, and dementia. Over half of adults (56%) don’t receive treatment. That means seniors in our community are silently suffering.

Our senior community faces a unique set of challenges — some natural, some societal — that compound mental health struggles. From coping with the loss of friends or family members to managing chronic health conditions and financial worries, this stage of life presents new hurdles. Social isolation is prevalent, with many seniors facing housing transitions that leave them disconnected from their communities, even losing their sense of place. Ultimately, many seniors lack the support and connection they need to understand and address their mental health needs.

Breaking the Silence
Stigma and misconceptions often prevent people from seeking help or discussing their struggles openly. This is especially common for older generations that were steeped in this stigma. One of the most impactful ways we can support our seniors is by breaking the silence surrounding mental health. By fostering an environment of understanding and acceptance, we can empower seniors to prioritize their mental health without shame or judgment. Something as simple as asking how your loved one is doing and really listening to the answer can have a huge impact.

The Power of Early Support
Early intervention is key to addressing mental health concerns. Unfortunately, many older adults don’t receive the support they need in a timely manner. Regular mental health screenings and proactive discussions about emotional well-being can make a world of difference in identifying and addressing issues early on — but it will take all of us working together to ensure those screenings and discussions happen.

Taking Meaningful Action
Here at the Hub, we’re working to break the stigma of mental illness and provide the resources, treatment, and connections our seniors need. There’s also something we can all do: build a more supportive community. Community plays a vital role in promoting mental wellness for all of us — and here are a few ways you can help:

  • Advocate for Change: Support policies and initiatives that prioritize mental health services for older adults — including establishing accessible resources like senior centers, support groups, and outreach programs.
  • Talk About It: Start an open, compassionate dialogue with the seniors in your life, and help ensure they have access to mental health screenings and understand the mental health landscape.
  • Reach Out: Give the seniors in your life a helping hand… and consider volunteering to support elders in your community.
  • Take A Walk: Sunshine and movement, if that is accessible, can improve moods, increase vitality, and empower seniors to stay active and independent. Suggest a stroll, drive somewhere pretty, or browse a farmers’ market.

In It Together
Our elderly loved ones deserve to live with dignity, joy, and peace of mind. Let’s show up for them: helping them know they’re not alone and helping them appreciate the importance of caring for their mental wellness.

By embracing mental health awareness and fostering a culture of compassion, we can ensure our seniors get the care and support they need to thrive emotionally and mentally. Together, we can create a world where mental well-being knows no age limits, and every person feels valued, understood, and cherished.

The Community Mental Health Hub at Hanna is now providing licensed, professional counseling for youth and families. Interested in accessing care from our team?