6 September 2022
Category General
6 September 2022,

September is Healthy Aging Month

Written by Tajuana Lordeus, DMSc, PA-C

Have you seen movies such as POMS with Diane Keaton or The Father which stars Anthony Hopkins that deal with aging? Many of the clients that I serve are having great difficulty adapting to the fall and winter seasons of life.  The process of ‘healthy aging’ is a real movement that is often not discussed in everyday conversations. Let’s consider some of the scenarios of the clients I serve are often enduring…Some have reluctantly retired from very fulfilling careers, others may have been accustomed to being the provider and the backbone of the family but can no longer be this type of support, and many are struggling with new substantial chronic health conditions that can be very overwhelming. It is during this season of life that depression, anxiety, and other mood disturbances can be missed as other medical illnesses take front and center stage.

As a behavioral health provider, it is always an honor to be able to dialogue unhurriedly about the mental health concerns that emerge from our clients as they navigate this season of life that can be very different for everyone. It can be very frightening to notice your memory lapsing and things are becoming more challenging to understand. Clients are often dismayed at how quickly the body loses mobility and strength during various disease processes. Teasing out these nuances in conversation and speaking frankly about them can bring a sense of relief to the client.  Psychiatric nurse practitioners and physician assistants, can do testing such as the Montreal Cognitive Assessment Test (MoCA), phq-9, GAD-7, and other screenings as indicated. The results of these tests can help to begin uncovering some of these mental health illnesses that may cause obstacles in improving health, having joy, and continuing to engage positive relationships.

Teasing out what brings each client happiness, exploring past and present hobbies, adding needed community resources, and learning who provides the most emotional support can be an appropriate start to adding value to a client’s life during this often tumultuous time. Clients can then team up with their community providers to start building on these foundational support blocks. These actions allow for steps to be made towards consistently adding positive behaviors and mindsets into each day and especially during times of distress. Behavioral health medications are an option if needed, but because of comorbidities and complications that exist when treating a geriatric population, getting to the root of the distress, and using nonpharmacological means may be a better choice. A behavioral health team can employ techniques such as ‘talk therapy’ (CBT) and behavioral activation exercises which can be just as effective as medication in certain circumstances. In fact, for anxiety-driven disorders and some cases of depression, various forms of psychotherapy can be even more beneficial than medication in certain circumstances.1,2

Did you know there is a national observance for Healthy Aging recognized every September? This observance was created 30 years ago.3  Here are some tips to weave into conversations during visits with our clients that were gleaned from the Healthy Aging Magazine3:

  1. Be realistic
  2. Shed the “superhero” urge
  3. Take one thing at a time
  4. Move more, sit less
  5. Engage in aerobic exercise
  6. Engage in muscle strengthening
  7. Review your daily diet and make necessary changes
  8. Volunteer
  9. Dream and then get to it
  10. Launch your next career

Being able to aid our aging clients in finding a purpose for each day and navigating the various potholes of illness trajectory is an important part of each one of our jobs. The ability to engage someone in meaningful conversation, and shift their negative mood and perspective to a much brighter one can profoundly assist in the journey towards healthy aging. Resilience is a skill many of our clients have mastered throughout their lives and may need just a gentle reminder through caring conversation. Consider these tips when engaging in face-to-face or telephonic conversations with our geriatric clients. Feel free to refer them to the resources provided by AARP and the Healthy Aging websites.3,4


  2. DeRubeis RJ, Siegle GJ, Hollon SD. Cognitive therapy versus medication for depression: treatment outcomes and neural mechanisms. Nat Rev Neurosci. 2008 Oct;9(10):788-96. doi: 10.1038/nrn2345. Epub 2008 Sep 11. PMID: 18784657; PMCID: PMC2748674.
  3. September is Healthy Aging Month Celebrates 30 Years. Healthy Aging. healthyaging.net. Accessed August 15, 2022.
  4. AARP The Magazine. aarp.org. Accessed August 16, 2022.

Above is a picture of my dad and I in the gorgeous city of Colorado Springs, Colorado. I love that he’s thriving in retirement. I could not upload the wonderful picture of him reading on his deck and enjoying the gorgeous view. So, instead you’re looking at a father and daughter duo. I am so proud of the way he embraces retirement by being active – walking his dog daily, reading the newspaper, finding community events to attend such as jazz concerts and cultural festivals, having friends and family over for cookouts,  traveling, and so much more. He shares a picture of retirement as a wonderful season of life to look forward to! Our family is so appreciative of him also using his season of retirement to be a caretaker, advisor, and what is necessary for his extended family while he is in good health. Photo credit: Tajuana Lordeus, DMSc, PA-C 6/2022.

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