Problem-solving therapy for seniors with depression

By Marek Kubow

A new non-pharmaceutical therapy program will help seniors suffering from depression manage life’s daily problems in the community.

Funded by The Bell Let’s Talk Community Fund 2017, “Problem Solving Therapy: a community initiative project” is a partnership between Lawson Health Research Institute (Lawson), London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) and the London Public Library.

“Depression affects two to eight percent of older adults and causes isolation, increased rate of hospital and long term care admissions, and elevated mortality,” says Dr. Akshya Vasudev, principal investigator and associate scientist, Lawson, and geriatric psychiatrist, LHSC. “Problem Solving Therapy is a time-limited skills-building treatment which addresses an individual’s problems, validates them, and teaches the individual to manage those problems in order to reduce or eliminate the symptoms of depression.”

Over the next year, 30 seniors, who have been diagnosed with depression by a trained rater, will receive group based Problem Solving Therapy at their local London Public Library branch. “Our libraries are accessible in all neighborhoods and are a welcoming access point for community services,” says Carolyn Doyle, coordinator, Adult Services, London Public Library. “The older adults we hope to serve will receive support in a comfortable community environment that is free of stigma.”

In 2016, a pilot project successfully showed that a community model to deliver Problem Solving Therapy is feasible and meets this need in the community. “We expect those who receive this therapy will see an improvement in mood and accompanying disabling symptoms such as anxiety, insomnia and reduced quality of life,” adds Dr. Vasudev.

Marek Kubow is Lead, Communications & External Relations at Lawson Health Research Institute.