Helping Sarasota Residents Over 55 Thrive
Whether you’re 55, 65, or older, the years ahead may represent a sense of freedom and more time for family, travel, and leisure pursuits, but this stage of life can also be marked by sadness from an empty nest to the loss of loved ones, mobility and career. An estimated one in five older adults struggles with depression and anxiety. Many don’t get the help they need.
Untreated mental illness is linked to worse mental and physical health outcomes. It can exacerbate conditions like heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, and contribute to suicide risk. In 2021, nearly 64 percent of suicides in Sarasota County were people over age 50.
Thrive 55+, a new outpatient behavioral health program, was created to support the mental health care needs of people over age 55. The program will relocate to Sarasota Memorial’s state-of-the-art Cornell Behavioral Health Pavilion when it opens later this year. “We will have a full continuum of exceptional inpatient and outpatient care in the same building,” says Kim Brown, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, supervisor of Outpatient Behavioral Health Services at SMH.
This breakthrough mental health program received funding from longtime Healthcare Foundation supporters, Barbara and Gary Rodkin. Thanks to the Rodkins’ generosity, Thrive 55+ anticipates that it will help almost 500 people in its first year alone.
“There are two populations that Thrive 55+ serves,” adds Brown. “The first is adults 55 and older who are looking for behavioral health and wellness activities themselves. The second but also important population is caretakers of older adults. A 20-year-old who is caring for their grandmother with dementia could also qualify for services.”
The program provides many services including case coordination, support groups, wellness activities, and community mental health screenings and education events. For seniors who need more than once-a-week therapy, Thrive 55+ also offers a three-hour Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) up to five days each week. The IOP includes visits with medical staff, plus individual and group counseling, says Brown.
Overcoming Barriers to Care
A lack of access, awareness, and insurance are all barriers that stand in the way of older adults receiving the mental health care they need. Thrive 55+ helps to break down these barriers.
An outreach coordinator connects patients with resources in the community, including wellness programs like the Senior Friendship Center and the Academy at Glengary. The coordinator can even assist with identifying transportation resources to these programs.
To identify individuals who might benefit from this program and encourage their participation, Thrive 55+ does outreach at senior centers and other community agencies geared to older adults.
Thrive 55+ follows the principle that everyone has the right to mental health care, regardless of their insurance coverage and ability to pay. With the generous support of SMHF’s donors, those who are uninsured or underinsured never have to worry about paying for services.
“This program is absolutely essential, and it would not exist without the efforts of the Healthcare Foundation, and the Rodkins,” Brown says.
Thrive55 + offers a variety of mental wellness services, including:
- Mental health assessments from a licensed therapist
- Personalized care programs based on an individual’s needs
- One-on-one and group counseling sessions
- Medication management services
- Family support programs
- Case management to help with aftercare planning and quality-of-life issues
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