No, PEARLS is not about a necklace we wear. Rather, it is about support for the 60+ population. Let me explain: PEARLS stands for Program Encouraging Active Rewarding Lives for Seniors. PEARLS has existed nationally for about 12 years. We offer support to people 60+ who are sad, anxious, depressed or are experiencing life issues for which they want support in El Paso County Colorado.
PEARLS was developed at the University of Washington in the late 1990s. The aim was to provide supportive companionship and practical strategies to improve the lives of older adults. The human needs which PEARLS addresses affects more than 6.5 million Americans in that age group, but only about 10% get treatment, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Some of the potential consequences of a lack of support or treatment is increasing isolation and physical decline. Frequently, we run across folks that just feel stagnant: “I’m at that certain age, this is how I am now.’”
Cynthia, our coach, says older generations often view receiving mental health care as embarrassing or shameful, so they often won’t seek help. Often, they are not even aware they’re feeling depressed, remarking, “it’s just the way it’s supposed to be!”
The PEARLS program is offered at no charge to clients. It identifies 60+ folks who may be just starting to struggle or even at-risk seniors who have gone for long periods with little support. Typically, our coach meets the client in his or her home for six to eight sessions through 5 to 6 months to learn skills for goals they have set so they can make behavior changes to diminish their depression and isolation.
The PEARLS Program of Colorado and those in other states have provided services to hundreds of persons. Clients are often the best spokespeople for the effectiveness of the program. One individual commented, “I’m not so sad all the time and unreasonable about everything,” “I would recommend this program to most people,” and, “it changed my way of thinking.”
Increased self-sufficiency is also one of the program’s aims. “If people take care of their emotional health, they’re more likely to care for themselves physically,” said Roberta “I think a program like this can help individuals be less dependent on the system.”
Research supports clients’ comments on their experiences. PEARLS recipients were likely to have a reduction in depression and anxiety symptoms, improved quality of life, and a trend in decreased hospitalizations.
Care coordination is also a key element. Our staff has decades of experience working with 60+ members of our community. They are well-acquainted with additional services that might be needed and assist clients in access to them. Building a wider network of supports strengthens individuals’ ability to maintain the gains they made while working with the PEARLS coach.
To contact a PEARLS coach call or text 719 459-2017 Website: pearlsprogram.net