If you or a loved one need financial or emotional support call 2-1-1. Seniors seeking assistance can reach out to 1-800-662-4357

BREVARD COUNTY — As we approach five months of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, Brevard County’s most vulnerable residents are still left isolated while trying to protect themselves from exposure to the coronavirus.

Senior Resource Alliance is here to provide assistance to those in our community who may be feeling overwhelmed with everything that’s going on.

The SRA offers a telephone reassurance call and Program to Encourage Active and Rewarding Lives (PEARLS) to connect with seniors and help them identify and manage symptoms of depression on their own.

Prior to COVID-19, SRA was able to provide programs that promoted senior wellness and engage them in activities. SRA aims to provide services for all seniors and to help seniors age with independence and dignity.

“Through our telephone reassurance calls, they are expressing feelings of isolation, anxiety and depression,” said Karla Radka, president and CEO of SRA.

“A lot is triggered by the pandemic and also much of that is a ripple effect of the financial crisis that we live in,” she continued. “If you throw in there a natural condition, like a hurricane, all of those are conditions are not in our control as human beings.”

Seniors may be experiencing a heightened sense of isolation and depression as they miss out on the birth of a grandchild or seeing their family.

Seniors can sign up for a telephone reassurance call with a trained counselor and they can choose how often they would like to receive a phone call, which can be as involved as the senior would like.

Whether seniors would like to dive into a deep discussion on their wellbeing or they need technical support, it’s all about enhancing the human experience, Mrs. Radka explained.

Mental health is as important physical health, Mrs. Radka noted. Depression can be as detrimental to your physical health as having high blood pressure.

“It affects the overall wellbeing of the individuals,” Mrs. Radka said, “and for our seniors, there is evidence that it’s linked to other things like dementia, overuse of prescriptions and suicide.”

During the pandemic, Senior Resource Alliance has led a meal delivery service called “Meals of Love” to seniors, disabled residents and those under the household of senior responsibility with free meals.

Brevard Alzheimer’s Foundation assisted in the delivery process and created an app to track the meal routes.

SRA recently instituted the PEARLS program, which is a program from the University of Washington designed to reduce depression in seniors through phone appointments.

“This is a very effective program that not only serves seniors dealing with depression, but when seniors have been in the hospital, it has reduced 50% of hospital returns,” Mrs. Radka said.

Signs of depression may include seniors reporting a pain in their heart that isn’t physical, difficulty sleeping, lack of enjoyment from activities that used to bring joy, lack of eating or overeating, sleeping all day, over-use of prescriptions or feeling hopeless.

Restlessness may be a sign of anxiety.

“Someone that is trained will recognize those signs and be able to address them in a compassionate, gentle and professional way to be able to help that individual,” Mrs. Radka said. “We’re in this together and there is a place for everyone to take action.

“The call of action is if you are neighbor of someone you know that lives by themselves or you know a senior in isolation, reach out in a virtual setting or a setting that is safe using a mask with six feet of distance,” she continued. “Reach out to them and let them know that you care.”

To reach the PEARLS service, seniors can call (407) 514-0019 or visit www.seniorresourcealliance.org to chat with a representative online.

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