Assisted living transition tough for some seniors

County offers support for assisted living transiti

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - Mental health experts said it is stressful for seniors when they are forced to move into an assisted living program.

 "Moving to a nursing home or convalescent home can be overwhelming for a lot of people. Especially if they are not prepared to do so and that decision is made for them abruptly," said Lito Morillo of Kern County Aging and Adult Services.

 Mental health experts said when an elderly person is forced to move into assisted living they can feel their independence being taken away and may become depressed.

 "If it looks like there is depression is setting in and there is concern that they are suicidal, they can connect them into senior specific mental health services," said Bill Walker of Kern County Mental Health.

 Kern County Mental Health has the Volunteer Senior Outreach Program that offers help for families looking to make that transition.

 "A therapist can meet with anyone in the family and they can send out a volunteer, who is also a senior by the way. They can work with them and try to understand what the family needs," said Walker.

 Mental health experts advise families to move with caution when considering assisted living for their elderly parents. They said be honest with your loved ones about why assisted living is the best option, but don't make that decision abruptly.

 "If someone is moving in to a nursing home, it should be prepared and well thought out. The individual or  couple should get a good understanding of what their environment will be and get more comfortable with the location they will be moving. They need to get familiar with the people they will be living with," said Morillo.

Mental health experts also said you should seek help if an elderly person is depressed and is talking about suicide, because one in four seniors actually go through with it.

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