Daily phone calls are helping a dozen Aurora Township seniors' mental health

  • Daily Herald file photo

    Daily Herald file photo

 
 
Posted1/1/2020 6:00 AM

Forget the window. For a dozen seniors in Aurora Township, the sunshine comes in through the phone.

The seniors all have mental health conditions and are part of a new program offered by the Association for Individual Development.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The program, called Senior Sunshine, provides phone calls up to four times a day to remind the seniors to take their medications, to make sure they are physically and mentally OK, and to connect them to other services such as therapy, financial assistance or even furniture donations.

Ashley Costello, lead mental health professional, is running the program and says its early days are showing a need. The Association for Individual Development, a nonprofit that helps people with intellectual, physical, developmental or mental disabilities, hopes to increase participation in the service tenfold in the next year, she said.

"There's a very high percentage of senior citizens that struggle with issues like anxiety or depression, so we wanted to, with this program, address that directly, and reach out to people who need it," Costello said. "I think it's been really helpful with the program targeting this particular population."

Costello has been working with partner organizations including the homeless services agency Hesed House in Aurora to find seniors who need help managing their mental health.

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"We're just thrilled for the help," Hesed House Executive Director Ryan Dowd said. "The elderly population certainly has additional needs beyond other populations. To have another group that is specifically trained and tasked with the needs of that group is exceptional."

Costello said she has been visiting the 12 participating seniors in their homes, a new thing for her, as her background is in working the phones on the crisis line the association offers.

"It's helpful for the relationships that we build with the clients," Costello said.

She and other employees on the crisis line make the daily calls to the seniors in the new service.

It's an offshoot of a long-standing Sunshine program that assists people of any age with medication reminders and outreach calls.

The Sunshine part of the name is something callers keep in mind when they pick up the phone.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"For those who are more isolated and don't have a lot of people to talk to, we understand that our calls can be some of the only social interaction that our clients get throughout the day," Costello said.

"So we do try to have a more cheery disposition and make that interaction positive no matter what."

Other seniors ages 60 and older in Aurora Township who are interested in receiving Senior Sunshine calls can contact Costello at (630) 966-4347 or ACostello@AIDcares.org to receive an application in the mail.

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