H.E.L.P. Receives McMillen Family Foundation Grant

H.E.L.P. received a grant to address the growing problem of alcohol and drug abuse among older adults. H.E.L.P. is pleased to be able to continue the partnership with the McMillen Family Foundation begun in April 2017 with the development of a pilot alcohol and substance abuse educational outreach program for seniors. The goal of the program is to alert seniors and their families to the growing problem of alcohol and drug abuse among older adults. Over the past several decades, physicians have increasingly prescribed seniors with pain medications to address chronic pain, without adequate medical follow-up, and many end up addicted. Seniors need to be alerted to the dangers of continued long-term use of these drugs after leaving the hospital and advised to not just take the prescription because it’s part of the checkout process from the hospital. There is also the need to be aware of additional potential side effects stemming from the interaction of their regular medications with the use of alcohol or drugs.

New COVID pandemic emergency grant.

H.E.L.P. is very grateful to receive a 2021 emergency grant from the McMillen Family Foundation to enable our staff to stay focused on the important topic of alcohol and substance use among seniors. During these difficult times when regular medical appointments are often curtailed, seniors are receiving less  follow-up on their pain medications, which can lead to dependence if not monitored. Likewise, the isolation experienced during the pandemic can also lead to higher levels of alcohol use, often resulting in falls and other incidents. Our community classes, now provided by Zoom, help inform seniors of the pitfalls.

Alcohol abuse can put the elderly at risk for internal bleeding, heart problems and difficulties in
breathing. Alcohol-related illnesses are a major cause of premature death. Among persons older than 65, moderate and heavy drinkers are 16 times more likely than nondrinkers to die of suicide. Less than half of alcoholics over 65 are diagnosed, a Penn State study has shown, because often the telltale signs of alcohol dependence are masked by patient denial and seeming good health. Alcohol abuse also contributes to increased risk of falls, as well as emergency hospitalization for adverse alcohol and drug events in older Americans.

H.E.L.P. recently completed a Strategic Plan that prioritizes our efforts to assist seniors with substance abuse issues, as stated in Goal #4:

Develop resources/partnerships that enhance senior wellbeing.

Objective 4.1. Develop partnerships that nurture priorities of:
1. Access to healthcare, 2. Help with substance abuse, 3. Financial stability4. Avoiding scams and elder abuse, 5. Retaining cognitive stability.

The action items for Substance Abuse in Goal #4 are:

4.2.1 Build on foundation of current substance abuse pilot program by extending education program to more low income areas.
4.2.2 Update website to make access to substance abuse resources more user-friendly; build substance recovery resources.
4.2.3 Increase outreach to senior living facilities and senior centers to provide education programs on substance abuse.
4.2.4 Network with substance recovery programs to offer client counseling and education on jobs, housing, finances, healthcare, entitlement programs, and other support.
4.2.5 Build referral list of recovery programs in the South Bay.