Group aids seniors with depression - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Group aids seniors with depression

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Posted: Thursday, April 8, 2004 9:59 am | Updated: 5:51 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

Seniors faced with the loss of a loved one and the depression that follows can find help through a support group at the Via Linda Senior Center in Scottsdale.

"We have had a lot of requests to do a group like this, but it has taken a while to find the right person to run it," said Greg Bestgen, human services specialist at the center.

Sponsored by the Mental Health Association of Arizona, the two-hour support group session offers about 10 seniors a chance to share their problems and learn how their peers overcame depression.

The group meets 2 to 4 p.m. Fridays at the center, 10440 N. Via Linda. There is no cost to attend.

"There are a lot of reasons why seniors get depressed," said Larry Burke, spokesman for the Area Agency on Aging.

"Perhaps a spouse has died or there is an illness in the family. Sometimes it has to do with a pet dying."

Seniors, Burke said, are most at-risk to contemplate or commit suicide.

"Most people think it is teenagers, but it is actually senior males over the age of 80," he said. "Often it is because they are widowers and relied on their spouse for everything from housekeeping to cooking and they feel overwhelmed having to learn those new skills."

"The primary reason seniors get depressed is loss, but in many cases if they recently moved here it is harder to meet friends and they end up isolating themselves," said Ellie Schwartzberg, director of geriatric services for Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Phoenix.

The key to overcoming depression is getting out and socializing, she said.

"Socialization plays a large role in a senior’s life as to whether they are depressed or not," Schwartzberg said. "The more support they have, the less depressed they are."

Find out more

To sign up for or learn more about the depression support group at

the Via Linda Senior Center, call

(480) 312-5810.

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