Mental Health Matters—A Monthly Column


James L. Fleming, MD

Welcome to the first of hopefully many monthly columns on mental health issues written by me and other members of the treatment team at Senior Life Solutions, an "intensive outpatient treatment program" for seniors at Putnam County Memorial Hospital. We started the program last fall and have all been pleased and impressed with the positive feedback we have received from participants. We also have felt very welcomed and appreciated by the hospital staff as well the community in and around Unionville which have made referrals to the program.

Here are some initial thoughts from a psychiatrist who also turned the corner on 60 years in January but still has to periodically remind himself that he's getting close to the status of "senior citizen".

Life can be pretty stressful and our ability to cope is often challenged. As we age, the challenges seem to multiply: we lose friends and family, face more health problems of our own and often don't seem to have the energy and capacity we used to. Our accumulated life experiences can offset these changes but the very common ailments of depression and anxiety tend to block the expression of our inner wisdom.That's when its helpful---and sometimes critical--- to accept help from others: friends, family, our community and caregivers. Professionals can offer valuable feedback and emotional support or insight, make useful suggestions, connect us to community resources and in some cases provide medication.

I've chose the title the column to indicate that we will be discussing common mental health problems and their treatment--i.e. "matters" in the sense of issues in mental health but also to emphasize the fact addressing mental health really does "matter"--we'd like to share with you how our treatments can be effective and important to overall health and fulfillment. And we'd also like to hear from you, the reader, about things that work for you, about resources available in your community or examples of people you know who help ease the stress and distress of others. We'd also appreciate suggestions on topics of interest to you in the area of mental health and/or aging. We look forward to hearing from you and sharing our knowledge and experience.

Dr Fleming is a Board Certified Psychiatrist and serves as Medical Director of Senior Life Solutions at Putnam County Memorial Hospital. Comments or suggestions for Mental Health Matters can be sent to Natalie Trinkle, RN Director of the program via email: or by calling 660 947 2411.