Elder Health Tree offers resource guide for aging adults
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.