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The Impact of CAPE: Mental Health Services for Older Adults

Sam Field offers adult day care and early stage dementia programs and mental health clinic

SK is a 65 year old who had been cared for by her parents until their deaths. She suddenly found herself without an apartment and no means of support. She was never in the “system” and could not navigate the applications on her own. We worked with her to get disability, social security, and medicaid. Today she is living on her own, attending weekly group counseling, and is in a job training program. 

According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control), 20% of people age 55 years or older experience some type of mental health concerns including anxiety, severe cognitive impairment, and depression. Older adults with depression visit the doctor and emergency room more often, use more medication, incur higher outpatient charges, and stay longer in the hospital.

CAPE (Community Advisory Program for the Elderly) is an Outpatient Mental Health Clinic for persons aged 50 and over and their families. CAPE offers individual, group and family therapy, psychiatric evaluations and medication monitoring in our nine clinics and we offer the same counseling and medical services to homebound elderly. 

Ira is a Holocaust Survivor. Shortly after he emigrated to the United States at age 19, he joined the U.S. Army. In 1945 he liberated his hometown of Dachau. It was then that he learned that 17 members of his family died in the Dachau concentration camp.

It was Ira’s wife who first encouraged him to come to CAPE. She shared that he had been experiencing visual hallucinations for “many years.” In addition, after his doctor told him he could no longer drive, Ira became depressed and angry.

Ira was seen by a social worker and psychiatrist and has been attending weekly therapy as well as taking medication for his neurological symptoms. At the same time, his wife joined a support group that helps her learn coping mechanisms and strategies to help Ira. 

Ira said, “It’s been very hard but I am learning.”

CAPE is one of the only clinics left that accepts all insurance. We ask ourselves, what would happen to an older person in crisis if we were not here? It is a point of pride that we do not turn away anyone because of ability to pay.