Blue Skies helps Los Banos, Dos Palos seniors fight depression

01/03/2014 12:00 AM

01/02/2014 4:02 PM

A Merced County agency is starting a free support group for Los Banos and Dos Palos senior citizens fighting depression and loneliness.

Blue Skies Peer Support Group for Seniors, which will meet for 90 minutes every two weeks, starts this month. The program is overseen by the Merced County Area Agency on Aging and focuses on people over 60 facing isolation, chronic sadness and other issues that often are accompanied with advanced age.

“There’s so many older people and there’s so many older depressed people,” said Telia Nunn, who will lead the support group. “There’s a whole group that could use some help.”

The program is designed for participants to share their stories about the pros and cons of aging. Nunn said guest speakers also will be brought in to discuss various topics relating to aging, and she will provide information on resources and local activities.

“We can keep them abreast of what’s going on in the community,” Nunn said.

She said the support group will evolve as its members determine their interests.

“There’s a lot of things that could fall into place, because we want to know what they want,” Nunn said.

Nunn, whose husband died of cancer, said she’s had personal experience with many of the same emotions as people in her support group.

“We know the frustration people have, and there’s nobody to talk to,” she said.

Blue Skies will emphasize the importance of older people getting out of the house and being social. Nunn said getting senior citizens active again is what gave her the idea for the support group.

The Merced County Human Services Agency’s Program to Encourage Active Rewarding Lives for Seniors, or PEARLS features one-on-one in-home counseling for people 60 and older who are depressed because of mobility issues, loneliness or financial troubles. Nunn said Blue Skies is sort of the next step beyond PEARLS.

Nunn said she hopes Blue Skies attracts a lot of people, but if it does she will hold sessions no larger than 10 because smaller groups are more conducive to sharing stories.

Blue Skies will meet from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in Los Banos behind the Merced County Human Services Agency office, 635 J St., starting Jan. 15. The group will then continue to meet on the first and third Wednesday of each month. Nunn said participants are asked to sign in at the Human Services office on the days the group is held.

Nunn said she encourages people interested in the group to bring friends and relatives.

For more information on Blue Skies call Telia Nunn at (503) 679-3321.

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