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According to a National Library of Science study, “Dynamics of Physical and Mental Health in Older Populations,” older people who have been mentally and emotionally healthy in the past “increase their present physical health significantly.”

Hearing that news, let’s say, you’ve been mildly depressed in the past and done nothing about it. Now as an older adult in your 50s, you’re a bit more depressed, but shrug it off as a fact of life, a symptom of getting older. Or you may refuse to look at your overall emotional health and cover up your loneliness, depression or anxiety with alcohol or other substances.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, depression is not a normal rite of passage of growing older. Depression may stem from a number of reasons, but ignoring it won’t help it go away. So why out of all the age groups in Newport County is it so difficult to get older adults to visit or even consider visiting a therapist?

Director Carmela Greer of the Newport Edward King House has said for the past five years that part of the drinking problem with older adults in Newport County is rooted in mental health challenges and if some of the 700-plus members of the Edward King House were more open to getting help, they could be a lot happier.

A case in point: CEO Jamie Lehane of Newport Mental Health and I held a 30-minute Mental Health First Aid overview at the Edward King House a few summers ago, and only one person showed up. That woman had mistakenly thought she was going to hear a talk on diabetes. However, what if that woman and other members of the center with younger offspring or relatives knew and believed that the more they attended to their mental health, the better their physical health could be.

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