April 1, 2008 (Orlando) - For elderly individuals with behavioral health
disorders who are not responding to treatments such as individual therapy
and/or psychopharmacological therapy, a structured outpatient program of
group therapy can "work magic," said Mark Agronin, MD, director of mental
health services at the Miami Jewish Home & Hospital for the Aged, Florida's
largest long-term care facility.
In a talk here at the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry 21st
Annual Meeting, Dr. Agronin described his center's "New Beginnings" program
and presented the case of Frieda, who went from treatment failure to rapid
Frieda was an 84-year-old woman who had survived exile in Siberia and who
remained depressed and preoccupied with somatic ailments despite treatment.
She was highly intelligent and insisted that she was not depressed, although
her only joy seemed to be singing in the choir in her assisted-living
At a time when Frieda had "worn out" her latest therapist, an opportunity
presented, said Dr. Agronin. The clinic had just started the "New
Beginnings" program, a daily, structured, 6- to 8-week group therapy program
for patients with psychiatric disorders such as mood disorders who showed a
lack of improvement with other modalities but who were medically stable and
able to participate in group discussions.
The program comprises 2 daily 50-minute back-to-back group therapy sessions
separated by a 10-minute refreshment break, said Dr. Agronin.
"I tried to convince Frieda to come into the group, and it took a while," he
said. The group leader, "part cheerleader, part drill sergeant," had to go
in and help Frieda dress to get her to the program the first week, but in
the second week, things began to change. "The group members loved Frieda,
because she challenged all the labels that we gave them - being older, being
depressed, being nervous," said Dr. Agronin. The others rallied around her,
and Frieda "was a star." She was smiling, her clothes were brighter, and she
showed up early.
Dr. Agronin described a dramatic incident that happened 1 day in the
following week. Frieda interrupted a discussion about depression and anxiety
by saying: "Enough talk about this. Let's sing." She grabbed the hands of
the 2 women on either side and began belting out the song "Hava Nagila,"
which literally means "let's rejoice." Within seconds, she was surrounded by
a group of women, all with their arms raised, singing together with joy on
their faces. The song ended, and Frieda thanked everyone and strode out of
"That was the last day that she ever came to the group, but in the months
thereafter, there was a change in her. She was more engaged in activities
and seemed a lot happier, more content," he said.
"I realized that what we had accomplished in the group was something that we
were not able to accomplish in any other setting. It came down to Frieda
really feeling cared for and feeling loved in this group and getting
positive attention not for being depressed but for being a caring, strong
person," said Dr. Agronin.
"Sometimes things happen in a group in a very magical way that is very
difficult to achieve in individual therapy and with medication," he
A Chance to Be Altruistic
Doing group therapy with the elderly has challenges that make it very
different from working with younger individuals, Dr. Agronin noted. For
example, the material that is presented or discussed in the group has to
take into account the fact that most elderly individuals have some physical
and cognitive disabilities. The location needs to be able to accommodate
wheelchairs. The participants might need help with transportation. A
refreshment break during the group therapy session is important because of
hydration and nutrition issues in the elderly.
Group therapy for older adults can, however, offer several distinct
advantages over individual therapy. These include the opportunity for
structured socialization with peers, sharing age-related problems with
others, and a chance to give and receive feedback and positive
reinforcement. "It also gives individuals an opportunity to be altruistic -
to give of themselves to other people - and I think that is one of the most
transforming aspects of it," he said.
Group therapy using this type of structured, psychoeducational approach
provides a comfortable and nonthreatening environment and provides practical
information and strategies. The program is also designed to provide mentally
stimulating exercises for individuals with mild cognitive impairment and
apathy, which are common in geriatric patients, he noted.
American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry. 21st Annual Meeting:
Innovative Research in Cross-Cultural Geropsychiatry. Presented March 15,
IN THE WORKPLACE
Research on Depression in the Workplace.
For more information please click here
Mental Health Matters Journal for Psychiatrists & GP's
Click here for more info on articles & how to subscribe
Literacy is a luxury that many of us take for granted. We depend on written communication for information, guidance, and access to heath care information That is why SADAG created SPEAKING BOOKS and revolutionized the way information is delivered to low literacy communities. It's exactly what it sounds like.a book that talks to the reader in his or her local language, delivering critical information in an interactive, and educational way.
The customizable 16-page book, accompanied by local celebrity audio recordings, ensures that vital health and social messages can be seen, heard, read and understood..
We started with books on Teen Suicide prevention , HIV, AIDS and Depression, Understanding Mental Health and have developed over 30 titles, such as TB, Malaria, Polio, Vaccines for over 30 countries.
- Click here to see speaking books in action
- Click here for sample book on clinical trials
- Click here for latest press release 1.
- Click here for latest press release 2.
- Click here to connect to international site www.booksofhope.com
- Speaking books for Health Care YouTube
Group Therapy for the Elderly
April 1, 2008 (Orlando) - For elderly individuals with behavioral health
Dr Reddy's Help Line
0800 21 22 23
Cipla 24hr Mental Health Helpline
0800 456 789
Pharmadynamics Police &Trauma Line
0800 20 50 26
Adcock Ingram Depression and Anxiety Helpline
0800 70 80 90
0800 55 44 33
Department of Social Development Substance Abuse Line 24hr helpline
0800 12 13 14
Suicide Crisis Line
0800 567 567
SADAG Mental Health Line
011 234 4837
Akeso Psychiatric Response Unit 24 Hour
0861 435 787
EMERGENCY Contact Numbers for Students in South Africa - Click here
MENTAL HEALTH CALENDAR 2019
Teen Suicide Prevention Week
11 - 18 February
Bipolar Awareness Day
Substance Abuse Awareness Day
Mental Health Awareness Month
1 – 31 July
Panic Awareness Day
World Suicide Prevention Day
World Mental Health Day
View our list of informative Infographs.
SADAG KZN Branch
SADAG have a office in Durban with the support of Psychiatrist Dr Suvira Ramlall and Clinical Psychologist, Suntosh Pillay.
The offices are based in Life St Joseph’s Hospital in Durban and are managed by Lynn Norton
The KZN Branch is deeply committed to;
- Launching new Support Groups
- Workshops on aspects of Mental Health
- School Talks on Suicide Prevention
- Corporate Wellness For KZN companies
Please click here for more information about the KZN activities.
Want to become a volunteer counsellor? Contact Senzi or Krystle 011 234 4837
Download Application Form Here
If you are interested in starting a Support Group, please contact Michelle on 0800 21 22 23.
To find a Support Group in your area, please phone SADAG on 0800 21 22 23.
If you are a journalist writing a story contact Cassey/Kayla on
011 234 4837 /firstname.lastname@example.org