Program aims to help depressed senior citizens

CARLSBAD — Homebound seniors in the Carlsbad community recently gained access to a life-changing support service funded by the county — the Positive Solutions Program from the Union of Pan Asian Communities, or UPAC.
The Carlsbad Senior Center adopted the program to offer mental health services to isolated seniors who may be suffering from depression. Through the Positive Solutions service, clinicians will counsel seniors using early prevention and intervention methods.
“It’s renewing their life and helping them deal with any issues,” Emily Wu, program director, said. “If they’re already depressed, we’ll provide intervention to improve their lives.”
With funding from San Diego County, UPAC is offering its Positive Solutions services to homebound seniors 60 and older. They will use a survey to diagnose cases, while also offering outreach and education to others to address issues before they arise.
If accepted into the program, seniors will go through the Program to Encourage Active and Rewarding Lives for Seniors, or PEARLS. This includes eight face-to-face sessions over 19 weeks, where clinicians focus on problem-solving therapy while encouraging social and physical activities, Wu said.
“We send social workers and psychiatrists to help these people,” Wu said. “It’s at no charge — we don’t do billing or charge their insurance.”
Those seniors who receive home meal delivery will be the main focus group in Carlsbad. Meal delivery drivers will be trained to recognize any symptoms that would indicate someone might be suffering from depression, recreation manager Gail Lynn said.
“The home meal participants will be offered a survey, but they don’t have to fill it out,” Lynn said. “If they want help, we’ll make sure they get it.”
Directors hope that this outreach program will encourage homebound seniors to take advantage of the social and educational activities offered by the Carlsbad Senior Center. Daily transportation is available to anyone that no longer drives.
“We work really hard to have a warm and welcoming feeling,” Lynn said. “Senior centers aren’t for everyone, but I think for our 70-plus group, it’s a really vital source.”
More than 600 people visit the Senior Center on a daily basis for exercise programs, social activities or to catch a movie. One hundred people are signed up just for the daily lunch program, which offers healthy meals and activities like Bingo, Lynn said.
“Our whole function is to support independent and social living,” she said.
Homebound seniors, or those who would like to recommend someone for the program, can call (760) 736-8815, ext. 1. More information about Positive Solutions can be found on UPAC’s website, www.upacsd.com, under “Adult Mental Health.”

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