June 22, 2021 (Toronto)—CAMH is pleased to launch new resources to support the mental health and wellbeing of older adults aged 65+, with a focus on individuals from diverse communities and residents in long-term care and retirement homes.
Two service provider training modules and a series of informational handouts in multiple languages were created in collaboration with community partners Elspeth Heyworth Centre for Women, COSTI, Punjabi Community Health Services (PCHS), and Access Alliance.
“Aging comes with considerable challenges that can affect the mental health of older adults,” said Dr. Aviva Rostas, a psychiatrist in CAMH’s geriatric unit and contributor to the Understanding mental health and well-being in later life project. “CAMH is advancing exciting research on the aging brain, but we also know that social connection, physical activity and supportive environments are vital to good mental health in older adults. Working closely with our partners to get that information to service providers and older adults is critical.”
Social isolation and loneliness—further amplified by 15 months of rolling COVID-19 lockdowns—significantly contribute to deteriorating mental health in older adults. A recent report from Ontario’s Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission found that many long-term care residents experienced negative impacts to their mental health as a result of solitary conditions and lack of contact with family and friends.
One of the two new training modules is designed for workers in long-term care and retirement homes to better support the mental health needs of older adults. The other module supports service providers to understand social and structural factors influencing mental health in immigrant, refugee, ethno cultural and racialized (IRER) populations. Research indicates that older adults in IRER communities, and whose first language is not English, are more likely to experience poor mental health than non-immigrant, non-racialized older adults.
The informational handouts are available in seven languages: English, French, simplified and traditional Chinese, Spanish, Italian, and Punjabi.
“Providing seniors from ethno cultural communities with culturally-adapted resources in their preferred language is a positive and welcome step to ensuring equitable access to services in the community,” said Mario J. Calla, Executive Director, COSTI. “Especially during these most difficult times when seniors are isolated and struggling to cope with the stress of COVID-19 and the distance from family support.”
Baldev Mutta, Chief Executive Officer, Punjabi Community Health Services, said: “We are excited to be able to use the resources developed in collaboration with all our partners. We know that this would make a positive difference in the lives of our seniors.”
This project was funded by the Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility and the Ministry of Health. Raymond Cho, Minister for Seniors and Accessibility, said: “Our government is committed to supporting the mental health of seniors in Ontario, especially during these challenging times. These new resources mean seniors can access important mental health and addictions information in ways that meet their needs.”
Click here to learn more about the Understanding mental health and well-being in later life project and available resources.
About CAMH’s research on the aging brain
CAMH’s geriatric mental health researchers use advanced technology to explore the inner-workings of the aging brain and look for biomarkers of conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. One such study, called PACt-MD, is the largest ever Canadian investigation into dementia prevention. Over the duration of the PACt-MD study, CAMH has collected an extensive set of Electroencephalogram (EEG) data from people with cognitive impairment and later life depression, which are both risk factors for dementia. The hope is that this area of brain biomarker research will not only allow for much faster diagnosis of dementias, it might actually help prevent or even reverse brain damage associated with these diseases.
CAMH is Canada's largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital and a world leading research centre in this field. CAMH combines clinical care, research, education, policy development and health promotion to help transform the lives of people affected by mental illness and addiction. CAMH is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto, and is a Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization Collaborating Centre. For more information, please follow @CAMHnews on Twitter.