El­der Health Tree of­fers re­source guide for aging adults

Modern Healthcare - - OUTLIERS ASIDES & INSIDES -

The tree of life has a new dig­i­tal friend in the for­est, the El­der Health Tree. In­spired by the doc­u­men­tary “Left on Pur­pose,” which chron­i­cles the life of Mayer Vish­ner, an aging for­mer yip­pie ac­tivist from the 1960s, and in part­ner­ship with AARP New York, the El­der Health Tree pro­vides re­sources to im­prove the men­tal and fi­nan­cial health of Amer­ica’s older adults.

Every day 10,000 Amer­i­cans turn 65, and by 2050 that de­mo­graphic will make up a full quar­ter of all Amer­i­cans. The El­der Health Tree is a free on­line tool with re­sources, tips and ad­vice for healthy aging and to help pre­vent the onset of de­pres­sion and lone­li­ness.

The main branches are se­cu­rity, con­nec­tion and health, with sub­sec­tions on hous­ing, fi­nances, fam­ily and friends, com­mu­nity en­gage­ment, spir­i­tu­al­ity, med­i­cal care, diet and ex­er­cise, and cog­ni­tive health.

The film “Left on Pur­pose” chron­i­cles the last days of Vish­ner, a prom­i­nent 1960s rad­i­cal and yip­pie, a move­ment fu­eled by hope and op­ti­mism. But he was over­come by de­pres­sion and iso­la­tion in his later years.

In the be­gin­ning of the film, he openly states his in­ten­tion to end his life, and com­mits sui­cide be­liev­ing that he has noth­ing left to give. The sui­cide rate for mid­dle-aged men in the U.S. has risen by 50% in the past decade and the goal of the film and the El­der Health Tree is to raise aware­ness of that is­sue.

“We hope this re­source will break the stigma about dif­fi­cult con­ver­sa­tions and en­cour­age all peo­ple to sup­port one an­other to lead ful­fill­ing, healthy lives,” said Christo­pher Widelo, AARP New York as­so­ci­ate state di­rec­tor.

The project, avail­able at el­der­health tree.com, was de­vel­oped with sup­port from Mount Si­nai Hos­pi­tal in New York City and the Sun­dance In­sti­tute.

The El­der Health Tree of­fers on­line tools to help older adults cope with aging is­sues.

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