The Medical Center Franklin’s Senior Perspectives program is turning seven this month.

The outpatient-counseling program caters specifically to older adults who are having adjustment issues or difficulty coping with situational scenarios.

“I would say about 75% of the people we serve do not have long-term mental health issues. It is more situational when things like that happen,” Keri Williams, program director of Senior Perspectives at The Medical Center at Franklin/Scottsville, said.

The program, which occurs five days a week, is designed as group therapy so clients can share similar experiences and connect with other people.

“It’s a safe place for people to come-in and talk about things that are going on in their lives with other people who are dealing with the same things,” Williams added.

Group sessions take place from 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Williams said how often a group member decides to participate through the week is based on their individual needs.

“As they meet their treatment goals we reduce [the frequency of visits],” Williams said. “This is not a long-term program, I would say 4 to 6 months is the average, it may be a little longer or shorter depending on what is going on with that person.”

Assessments are conducted for new patients at the beginning of the sessions and given again at completion to see changes in mental health.

In the last quarter of 2019, the program had a 65% decrease in anxiety based on the scale of assessments and a 49% decrease in depression, according to Williams.

As patients finish their therapy, Williams said they are recognized for graduating the program.

“Therapy is hard work, you really have to look inside so we do recognize [participants],” Williams said.

Clients are given bracelets at the end with a “My Intent” word to mentally help for times when they are not in the group setting.

In 2019, 26 people in Franklin graduated from the Senior Perspectives program.

Williams, who has served as director for the past three years, said she has noticed an increase in participants each year.

Williams said one of the biggest barriers that potential patients face is lack of transportation, which is a benefit the program offers.

“We are able to provide free transportation through our program within a 40-mile radius of the hospital,” she said.

Williams said the COVID-19 pandemic is one of the biggest issues facing program clients currently.

“You have a population that is already isolated a lot based on — they can no longer drive, maybe their families are busy — so they are already social isolated,” Williams said. “Well, you add a pandemic into it, and they’re not even able to see their families any longer. A lot of times older adults looking forward to going to the doctor because that’s some of the only social interaction they have, and for the longest time doctors visits were canceled. So you have a population that was already socially isolated being required to social isolate even more so that has caused a problem.”

The Senior Perspectives program also continues community education services to teach the importance of mental health and aging.

“[The program] is successful every day and sometimes it’s very easily measured and other times it’s not as measurable,” Williams said. “It’s very rewarding for us and for them — being able to be a help to somebody’s life during this time. Aging is a natural process, but depression and anxiety are not part of that natural process. So, if we can help them overcome that or help them learn to cope with it better then that’s a benefit of the program.”

For more information about the program and hospital services, call The Medical Center at Franklin at 270-598-4920.

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