NORTH HOLLYWOOD — The Armenian Relief Society of Western USA’s Social Services Division and the ARS “Meghry” Chapter joined efforts to organize a lecture on “Identifying and Managing Emotional Stressors in the Lives of Older Adults” on January 26, 2016 in North Hollywood, Calif. Over fifty community members were in attendance to gain a wealth of information from the presenter, Shakeh Bogharian, a Clinical Social Worker who works as a medical social worker at a local hospital in the San Fernando Valley.
ARS Social Services Executive Director Sona Zinzalian delivered welcoming remarks to the audience, offering an overview of the comprehensive social services offered by the Division. Thereafter, she introduced Shakeh Bogharian, who holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work with specialized training as a geriatric social worker and has been registered as an Associate Clinical Social Worker with the Board of Behavioral Sciences since 2013.
Bogharian began her presentation by identifying the various types of life changes aging adults experience, including physical and health-related issues, loss, decreased independence, stress, and/or loneliness, all of which can affect an individual’s emotional well-being and pose challenges in the lives of older adults. She also described some culturally specific stressors, including acculturation and its intergenerational impact. While changes in lifestyle associated with aging are common and to be expected, Bogharian stressed the importance of knowing how to best cope and identify the signs of sadness or depression. She outlined the different signs of depression that may be brought about as a result of emotional stressors. These include social isolation, loss of interest in activities, changes in sleep and eating patterns, fluctuations in weight, as well as changes in memory and the ability to focus. She also outlined the physical effects of depression, including body aches, muscle pain, increased blood pressure, gastrointestinal problems, etc.
She offered numerous self-help tips to help combat and prevent depression in older adults, including participation in activities one enjoys, social interaction, exercising individually or in group settings, volunteering, creating a daily schedule, maintaining a healthy diet, getting adequate rest, and utilizing safe and healthy self-nurturing strategies to better cope with stressors. Talking to a professional counselor or therapist to express one’s thoughts and feelings in order to relieve emotions and to gain helpful insights was also highly encouraged. “Seeking help is never a sign of weakness,” expressed Bogharian.
The importance of talking to one’s primary care physician in an open and honest manner regarding health history and current signs and symptoms was stressed by Bogharian throughout the presentation.
Various questions were raised by the audience, which brought about the exchange of additional helpful information, such as the distinction between depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and memory loss, and how to emotionally deal with aging. A number of resources were distributed to attendees, including counseling options, a listing of Adult Day Health Care Centers, and coping strategies to better manage one’s emotions.