JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — Depression can be an overlooked health concern for many, but especially in the elderly community.
Since 2020 has been a tough year for everyone, Kristen Gallant explains how it’s specifically impacted the elderly who are in nursing homes and haven’t been able to see their families and friends.
Covid-19 has forced everyone to stay home more so than normal, leaving many people who are high risk for the virus cooped up inside and isolated.
This includes not being able to go to nursing homes or see older family members who may be living alone.
One organization is trying to raise awareness for mental health in the elderly community.
“This is probably one of the hardest years of our seniors lives,” said Kathryn McDonald, the Director of Jeb Foundation.
Waving from outside windows and calling those we love has become the only way to connect with those who are in assisted living facilities.
“My heart goes out to anybody that’s feeling depressed right now and especially people in senior citizens homes that aren’t able to see their family or their friends, and I know how difficult that must be,” said Amber Boyd.
During the holiday season, the longing to be with family and friends grows even greater, as it’s a time usually spent surrounded by loved ones.
Boyd has fought with her own mental health battles, especially in the midst of Covid-19.
“I’ve struggles with depression off and on and post-partum, and I think everybody can agree that this year has been tough, and so we’ve been dealing with that the best we can and one of the best ways is getting outside and walking and moving,” Boyd explained.
This is why the JEB Foundation in Johnson City is bringing awarness to senior citizens and their mental health by hosting a “Steps for Seniors” walk.
The walk started on East Tennessee State University’s campus and ended at the Watauga Square Living Center.
“It started in 2017,” said McDonald. “I really wanted to accentuate what I was already doing. So, I was already in the health care field connecting with seniors and as I connected with more individuals I saw the need of empowering those who are suffering from depression.”
For Boyd, dealing with her own mental health gives her compassion for those who are struggling,
“I think the biggest thing that has helped me is to be thankful, and on my headrest days when I woke up and didn’t want to get out of bed, I just started making a list of things I was thankful for.”
Other members who participated in the walk could join virtually or in person.
Mcdonald said JEB is an acronym for her mother’s initials, Jane English Brown, and that she was walking in support of her mother and other seniors in the community.
“Depression doesn’t look the same in everyone,” McDonald explained. “Depression isn’t always sadness. A lot of individuals that I have met with have experienced depression physically where they may be having panic attacks and they don’t understand what they’re feeling.”