Alcohol And Seniors


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Seniors' Mental Health Resources

Psychosocial Approaches to Mental Health Challenges of Late Life (

Some seniors are vulnerable to mental health problems at critical points or transitions in their lives  (e.g., becoming widowed, becoming disabled; moving into a care facility; caring for a spouse with a dementia); or when they are socially or emotionally isolated (which can result from any of those critical transition points).

There isn't a lot documented from a seniors' perspective, about how people in later life successfully cope with critical transitions, or what is helpful at these times. There is however evidence that psychosocial (i.e. non-biomedical) approaches to mental health problems in late life can be very effective in preventing and alleviating some mental health problems. Nevertheless, these approaches tend to be underutilized at present for a number of reasons.

From the website:

"The goal of this project is to develop the capacity of communities across Canada, through a comprehensive, integrated cross-sectoral approach, to use psychosocial approaches to promote seniors' mental health, and to prevent and/or address mental health problems. In order to meet this goal the project intends to:

(1) find out from seniors how they successfully cope with critical transitions;

(2) find out from seniors key elements in programs and services that are helpful to them;

(3) identify promising psychosocial approaches and models that promote seniors' mental health or prevent or address mental health problems;

(4) develop a mental health impact model with which to assess the effect of policies and programs on seniors' mental health;

(5) develop useful community resources based on the finding and experiences of this project.

The funding for this project was awarded to the BC Psychogeriatric Association by Health Canada, Population Health Fund, and is coordinated by Penny MacCourt.


 Older Persons’ Mental Health and Addictions Network

From the website: "The Older Persons’ Mental Health and Addictions Network was initiated in 2002 under the sponsorship of the Ontario Gerontology Association. The Network actively seeks out and invites the participation of service providers, consumers and consumer groups, family caregivers, ethno-cultural groups, educational facilities, research organizations, governments, and associations with an interest or a stake in the mental health / addiction needs of seniors. To date the Network includes representation from 50+ regional and provincial organizations, consumers and family advocacy groups."

The mandate of this cross-sectoral and interdisciplinary Network is:

" To improve the Ontario system of care for older persons in the community at risk of or coping with mental illness and addictions –and to support those who care for and about them."


Canadian Coalition for Seniors' Mental Health

From the website:

"The mission of the Canadian Coalition for Seniors Mental Health (CCSMH) is to promote the mental health of older persons/seniors by connecting people, ideas and resources."

"The focus of The Coalition is to promote the mental health of seniors through a coordinated national strategy. The first phase of the initiative focuses on older adults living in long-term care settings who have mental health issues including mood and anxiety disorders, schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders and emotional and behavioral problems which are as a result of conditions such as Alzheimer's disease, Stroke and Parkinson's disease and Huntington's disease. The Coalition's first priority is to focus on the unmet needs of seniors living in long-term care facilities."




Other Initiatives and Resources



1. Mental Health Exams

The Registered Psychiatric Nurses Association of Manitoba has a page on "Conducting Mental Health Examinations" which provides an overview of what needs to be considered during a Mental Status Examination (MSE). See:

This is a bit more detailed than the mini-mental exam that many are familiar with.


2. First Nations Mental Health

Manitoba's Psychiatric Nurses Association has an annotated bibliography on First Nations' mental health. See:


3. Also, "Vicarious Traumatization and Forms of Traumatic Stress in the Workplace of Psychiatric Nurses".

It begins: "In our work as psychiatric nurses we are witness to the emotional pain of our clients, their stories of trauma and abuse, and traumatic incidents of psychiatric emergencies and client suicide. How does the special nature our work affect our health, our construction of ourselves, and our understanding of the world?"




4. Statement of Beliefs on Mental Health Care for the Elderly  See:


5. Best Practices Guidelines in Nursing

The Registered Nurses Association of Ontario (RNAO) has begun a series on Best Practices Guidelines. See:  in the broad areas of Primary Health Care, Mental Health Care and Home Health Care.



6. I would like to thank the Suicide Response News people in Calgary, Alberta for identifying this resource


Spotlight on Community Resources,  Lifelong Mental Health Management – a new health promotion resource

"The Mental Health Promotion and Illness Prevention team of the Calgary Health Region, in collaboration with the Alberta Mental Health Board, has completed a large-scale mental health promotion initiative. A box-set series of four resource manuals entitled Lifelong Mental Health Management: Developmental Guide to Best Practice In Mental Health Promotion and Illness Prevention has been developed and is now available to various community service providers within the health region. This resource provides relevant information about mental health promotion strategies for individuals across the lifespan (infants to seniors), and will also be distributed to health professionals, physicians, and schools.

The resource is intended to enhance the confidence and competence of providers to identify potential opportunities for the promotion of mental health, the prevention of illness, and the early identification and appropriate referral of mental health concerns. All content will be placed on a web-site, which will be accessible in June 2003. For more information, or to access a set of manuals, please contact Shelley Whalen at ph: (403) 943-8131.




Page last updated Sunday October 31, 2004

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