Supporting the Mental Health of Nevada’s Seniors
During the holiday season, we are reminded to cherish time with family, to be thankful for our parents, grandparents and elders, and to check in on our neighbors who may be experiencing loneliness or health problems. While this is important during the holidays, these actions are just as meaningful throughout the rest of the year. In fact, as the holidays wind down, many seniors are particularly vulnerable to heightened feelings of anxiety, isolation and depression. Though depression treatment and suicide prevention efforts are often focused around young people, depression affects 15 out of every 100 American adults over the age of 65. We must take action to ensure seniors in Nevada, and across the country, are not suffering alone.
Seniors face multiple risk factors that heighten their risk for mental health problems later in life. While all of us experience life stressors, older adults are vulnerable to reduced mobility, chronic health conditions, responsibility to care for loved ones with health challenges, new financial worries and isolation, which can all be triggers for psychological conditions like anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts. That is why I’ve been working hard in Washington to reduce stressors on seniors by ensuring they have access to quality mental health care and strong support systems.
In the Senate, I have fought against misguided cuts to Medicare and Medicaid that provide seniors with crucial mental health coverage and preventative care. Medicare Part B covers one mental health screening a year, so seniors can seek quality advice from a primary care doctor. In addition, I’m a proud cosponsor of the Americans Giving Care to Elders (AGE) Act, which would provide financial relief to family caregivers by creating a tax credit for the costs of caring for an aging relative. Lowering the costs of caregiving will help ensure that elderly or sick patients aren’t worried about placing a burden on their family, and that older adults caring for aging spouses, friends or parents aren’t isolated from their communities due to the financial demands of caregiving.
I’ve also been fighting in the Senate to help fund and develop new prevention methods and public health infrastructure to combat Alzheimer’s disease. The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that up to 40 percent of people with Alzheimer’s disease suffer from significant depression, even though doctors are often slow to identify and diagnose depression in those with forms of dementia. I’m proud to have supported the bipartisan Building Our Largest Dementia (BOLD) Infrastructure for Alzheimer’s Act with Senator Susan Collins (RMaine).