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Suicide Crisis — Loneliness and isolation

JOPLIN, Mo. — Mental health can sometimes be a struggle for our older population. Throw in a global pandemic and it can add more layers of loneliness and isolation.

April Gordon, Engagement Team Supervisor, Community Care Program, said, “A lot of people feel like they’ve lost their sense of purpose.”

The changes that come with retirement aren’t always easy.

“For the past 40 years, they’ve been going to work everyday, 8 or 9 hours a day. Now all of a sudden, they don’t have that.”

April Gordon with Freeman Health System’s Ozark Center Community Care Program says there is an easy step to helping find a sense of purpose.

“Look for different volunteer opportunities in a field that they enjoy, maybe even part-time employment if that’s something that they’re wanting to do. Something to kind of give them that sense of purpose.”

She suggests volunteering with the Humane Society, the library, or even finding a penpal.

“It helps them feel needed. As humans, we like to feel needed, because it does fulfill that sense of purpose in our lives. It gives us something to occupy our time with. When you give something back to the community, it helps you feel good and it helps someone else feel good, too.”

For the younger generations — a simple check-in can make a world of difference.

“Ask them about their physical health, their mental health. Do they need help getting to their doctors? Do they need help getting groceries? And maybe just even connecting them to different resources in the community that maybe they didn’t know about before.”

And while the pandemic has complicated togetherness, a small gesture can still go a long way.

“Even without the pandemic, our lives are still busy, so if family members can even block out a portion of time that they can dedicate to their loved ones that are maybe even more isolated than they are, that they maybe can spend time with them.”

If you know anyone struggling with their mental health and they need someone to talk to, we urge you to call the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-talk.

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