Mental health and aging coalition conference will address COVID-19 concerns among elderly

Published 12:00 pm Thursday, July 21, 2022

Approximately 15 years ago, the Bluegrass Mental Health and Aging Coalition started putting together conferences to inform the community about issues about the elderly, but after Covid-19 canceled conferences for the last two years, it will be back in session next week.

On July 29th, the coalition will present its 13th Annual Empowering Mindfulness Conference. The conference will take place at the Clark County Extension Office from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

“I’ve always said you can’t take care of anyone else if you don’t take care of yourself,” said Licensed Clinical Social Worker Ron Kibbey, a coalition founding member. “This conference has been a tremendous help.”

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While different issues will be discussed, how Covid-19 has affected seniors will be the most frequently addressed subject.

The verdict is that the pandemic took an unseen toll on the senior population.

“The goal is to recognize that Covid had a devastating impact on seniors,” said Kibbey. “The purpose of this conference is to recognize that impact and try to provide a lot of focus on self-care.”

Because many businesses shut down, elderly individuals struggled in isolation – unable to directly communicate with family members and be involved with activities or resources that were particularly engaging.

It also impacted staffing at retirement homes, and other locations where checking up on the welfare of elderly individuals was a priority, further adding to troubles.

In many cases, concerns related to physical health also led to anxiety and depression, or even substance abuse issues.

“That’s not something we often think about when we think about the aging population,” Kibbey added.

Responses have been positive at prior conferences.

“The reopening of some of the services have been a tremendous thing,” Kibbey added.

The event will be sponsored by organizations and companies such as New Vista, Humana, and more.