Fast Facts: Aging and Mental Health
Depression affects more than 19 million Americans every year, regardless of age, race, or gender. While depression is not a normal part of the aging process, there is a strong likelihood of it occurring when other physical health conditions are present. For example, nearly a quarter of the 600,000 people who experience a stroke in a given year will experience clinical depression. More than two million of the 34 million Americans age 65 and older suffer from some form of depression. Additionally, older patients with symptoms of depression have roughly 50% higher healthcare costs than non-depressed seniors. Despite comprising only 13% of the U.S. population, individuals aged 65 and older account for 20% of all suicide deaths, with white males being particularly vulnerable. (source: mhanational.org/)
In the state of Colorado, 32.6% of the state’s residents are age 50 and older. Of those, 41.6% live alone, 17.3% experience housing insecurity, and 14% experience food insecurity. Through the pandemic, researchers found more than 32,000 out of 93,000 Colorado seniors surveyed expressed eviction concerns; That’s nearly 35% of that senior group.
The average home health care costs in Colorado are approximately $4,572 a month. This fee ensures that seniors can live well in their own homes while receiving some help to keep the house clean and run day to day errands. While home health care is an option for some, factors like housing insecurity, lack of mental health services, low income restraints, and lack of insurance make it difficult for many Colorado seniors to access. (source: https://www.seniorliving.org/colorado/)
Bridging the Gap: Spark’s Senior Companion Program
Many of our most vulnerable people are aging at home, often alone and disconnected from others. The Senior Companion Program provides a spark of good energy to combat loneliness and ensure our older adults have their needs met. Spark the Change Colorado’s Senior Companion Program is part of AmeriCorps Seniors, a United States government agency. Celebrating its fourth year of operation this July, this vitally important program engages individuals 55 years and better to realize the independence of older adults in their home and, as a team, continue to be vibrant, contributing members of our communities.
We serve in Adams, Arapahoe, Denver, Douglas, and Jefferson counties. Currently, 29 Senior Companions provide service to over 200 older adults. As a particularly vulnerable population, our volunteers could no longer perform in person services during the pandemic. With the help of technology, the program was able to go virtual! We were able to successfully connect 15 Companions with 15 clients, via iPads and Hot Spots. We are so grateful for the perseverance, dedication, and willingness to adapt presented by our Senior Companions and their clients as we continue to recover through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Learn more here: https://www.sparkthechangecolorado.org/senior-companion-program
The Power of National Service
National Service is an amazing way to get involved and make a lasting difference in your community. Every year, AmeriCorps Seniors matches over 200,000 AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers with service opportunities offered by partner organizations, like Spark the Change Colorado.
When you join AmeriCorps Seniors or another National program, you choose how you want to give back. Help a struggling child to learn to read. Deliver groceries to an elderly neighbor. Support a family impacted by natural disaster. These are just a few of the service opportunities available to you through AmeriCorps Seniors. AmeriCorps Seniors provide over 47 Million hours of service every year!
How YOU Can Help!
Our Senior Companion Program and its dedicated volunteers continue to provide these necessary services through the support, engagement, and giving of community change makers like you. As 2021 comes to a close and the Season of Giving begins, we ask that you lead with your passions and dedicate to supporting a cause that means something to you. If combatting loneliness and creating opportunities for connection that help older adults realize the independence of aging in their home is something that you feel passionate about, consider giving to Spark the Change Colorado and our Senior Companion Program.
Ways to Give
Join the Movement of Good — It’s the Colorado Way! Spark a Connection in the following ways:
- You can make a donation: Our goal for the remainder of 2021 is to raise $25,000 for our programs. If you’d like to support our efforts as an organization, or allocate your gift directly to the Senior Companion Program, donate to our Colorado Gives Day campaign here.
- You can volunteer: We are currently recruiting Senior Companion Volunteers in our service area. Join our team of change makers by volunteering today!
- You can become a Spark Member: Do you represent an organization that regularly recruits volunteers? Become a Spark Member and access benefits and opportunities to support your volunteer program!
- You can learn more about us and our programs: Knowledge is power, and only YOU know what your community needs! Learn more about our programs and opportunities so you can spread the word and become an ambassador for your local community.
- You can Join our Emailing Lists: Stay up-to-date on all things Spark by joining our email lists!