Category Archives: Annual Report

Mental Health and Older Adults: Video Series Shares Tales of Courage, Hope

Elizabeth’s inspiring story of how she overcame years of depression triggered by the murder of her daughter and subsequent death of her husband is featured in our 2011 annual report video series.

The release earlier this month of our second national poll, “Silver and Blue: The Unfinished Business of Mental Health and Older Americans,” capped a year in which the John A. Hartford Foundation has focused a spotlight on mental health issues.

We made mental health and older adults the focus of our award-winning 2011 annual report, and we brought the stories of real people we told in the pages of the report to life in a series of captivating videos that ran throughout the fall.

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Roberto’s Story: Giving Voice to Family Caregivers

In this final installment of our 2011 Annual Report series, we are pleased to share the voice of those who are too often overlooked—the family caregiver. This video features Mignonne, daughter of 82-year-old Roberto; she speaks candidly about her father’s delirium and the impact it had on both of their lives.

Delirium is a sudden, fluctuating, and usually reversible state of mental confusion that affects up to 50 percent of hospitalized older adults. People with delirium may present as disoriented and have memory problems. As a result, they are often misdiagnosed with dementia, depression, or psychosis.

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David’s Story: Research Crucial to Managing Bipolar Disorder

David has bipolar disorder, and for years has participated in and even collaborated on studies conducted by Colin A. Depp, PhD, an assistant professor at the University of California, San Diego Hartford Center of Excellence in Geriatric Psychiatry. In the latest installment of our 2011 Hartford Foundation Annual Report video blog series, there is an extraordinary moment where David discusses the importance of the work that Depp and others at the center are doing.

“I’m not a number. I’m not a statistic. I’m me,” David says. “And we need people like them to deal with the me’s.”

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Patty’s Story Illustrates Importance of Geriatric Psychiatry

If you have been following our blog series covering the 2011 Annual Report, then you know that our team has captured moving stories from older adults themselves who have benefited from the programs and services funded by the Hartford Foundation. I would like to highlight one such video about Patty, who has dementia but whose family observed a complete personality change in her after she fell and fractured her hip.

Delirium, for the inexperienced health care provider, is hard to differentiate from dementia. Patty was fortunate to have had Dr. Lalith-Kumar Solai, a psychiatrist from the University of Pittsburgh Center of Excellence in Geriatric Psychiatry, as her doctor. He adjusted Patty’s medications and was able to determine that Patty also had an untreated urinary tract infection. With antibiotics, the infection cleared and so did Patty’s delirium. The family was relieved to see their mother return to her usual calm and loving personality.

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Slow Down and Listen: The 2011 Annual Report Video Series

Recently, you heard from the creative team—our writer, photographers, and videographers—for our award-winning 2011 annual report focused on mental health and older adults. In that blog post, Don Battershall reported that in order to capture the stories of the older adults, caregivers, and health care professionals featured in the annual report, he needed to “really slow down and just listen, let the person talk.”

Today, we are delighted to give you the opportunity to “slow down and listen,” just as Don did, through the first of our collection of 2011 annual report videos.

The first video features Elizabeth, an inspiring older adult who overcame years of depression triggered by the murder of her daughter and subsequent death of her husband. Elizabeth, together with her Depression Care Manager Rita Haverkamp, RN, MNS, CNS, participated in Project IMPACT—a successful, Hartford-funded model to assess and treat depression in a primary care setting.

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Expected Does Not Mean Inevitable

As our dedicated 2012 Hartford Foundation annual report blog series followers know, our August 7 blog featured the creative team behind our award-winning annual report. Intrigued by their stories, we asked our annual report writer, Lynne Christensen, to tell us more about her experience writing about mental health and older adults.

Writing this year’s annual report had personal significance for me that I could not have anticipated when I began the project. About halfway through the writing process, I learned that my 81-year-old mother needed a heart valve replacement, and the surgery couldn’t wait. It was a traumatic surgery for someone her age.

Alice Christensen and her beloved cat, Sugar

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Award-Winning Stories: 2011 Hartford Annual Report

Last year I had the honor of announcing our first-ever Gold Award in the Vision Award Annual Report Competition sponsored by the League of American Communications Professionals (LACP) for our 2010 Hartford Annual Report.

This year, I get to brag again. Our 2011 Hartford Annual Report focused on mental health and older adults won a Silver Award in this year’s Vision Award competition. (As an official Hartford Bean Counter, I do feel obliged to report that our overall score of 97/100 was higher than last year’s 96/100.). Again, we won accolades for our narrative, creativity, and information accessibility, earning perfect marks on all.

Rather than simply bragging, I want to do some thanking. While Frank Doll, Nora OBrien-Suric, Jessie White, and I worked pretty hard on this report, the real, creative heavy lifting fell to Lynne Christensen (writer), Don Battershall (designer/photographer/videographer) and Will Mebane (photographer/videographer).

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Educating Nurses about Mental Health and Aging

It happens all too often: an older adult goes into the hospital and starts behaving strangely—hallucinating, rambling, showing signs of agitation, or becoming disoriented. He or she may not even recognize loved ones. What’s the diagnosis according to far too many health care providers? Dementia. And this despite the fact that dementia always has a gradual, not sudden, onset.

It happened to Nora OBrien-Suric’s father and Chris Langston’s uncle. It also happened to Roberto, whom we feature in our 2011 Hartford Foundation Annual Report. All of them had delirium, a reversible condition that can affect older adults after surgery or an illness.

What’s the solution? We need to educate health care providers as well as older adults and their loved ones about delirium and other mental health issues. The solution lies in astute practitioners like Pamela Cacchione, PhD, RN, BC, and her nursing student, Ashley King, MSN, RN, who had the skills and clinical training to assess and address Roberto’s delirium in order to restore his quality of life.

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2011 Hartford Foundation Annual Report: Mental Health and the Older Adult

Hot off the press is the web version of our most recent annual report focused on older adults and mental health—a topic near and dear to many of us at the Foundation.

In May 2002, my friend Tucker killed himself. Alone in his apartment, he used a gun to commit suicide. What haunts me (and many of his friends) to this day is that we had no idea that he was depressed. None. For years, Tucker apparently put on a brave face and silently suffered.

Such is the case with many older adults. Of the 40 million Americans over the age of 65, about 7.5 million have a mental health disorder and this number will grow as more of our population ages. Many older adults with mental illness suffer needlessly as they may have not been diagnosed, receive inadequate care, or worse—get no care at all. This despite the fact that adults over the age of 65 have a disproportionally higher rate of suicide than other age groups, with white males 85 and older having the highest.

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