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Lowering the  Rate  of  Depressed  Seniors     Depressed, alone, and unable to take care of her home, Joyce Martin, 68, refuses to live an alternative lifestyle. “I don’t want to live in a nursing home,” Joyce said. “I feel like if I were to live in a nursing home that I’m proving to myself that I am dying, and I am not ready for that feeling. I’m not ready to die. I won’t just give up on my life.” Joyce had surgery on her knees when she was 15 years old due to excessive cartilage behind her knee cap. Now that 53 years have passed, her knees caps have shifted making it uncomfortable for her to walk, yet alone stand. “It feels like someone is beating my knees with a hammer whenever I stand up from my wheelchair,” Joyce said. Joyce is able to cook, clean and go to the grocery store by bus in her wheelchair. Due to her disability, she can’t be completely independent. “If I have to stand up to do something, like change a light bulb, I won’t do it,” Joyce said. “It hurts my knees to bad for me to care enough to fix it.” Joyce lives alone. Her closest family member, her niece Michelle, lives 55 miles away. Michelle use to visit Joyce once a month to help Joyce with tasks around the house. Now Michelle stops by once every other month to visit. “It’s getting harder and harder for me to come see Joyce,” Michelle said. “I have kids of my own that I have to take care of.” Joyce can’t drive and the bus doesn’t go to Michelle’s town, so Joyce gets lonely and depressed.

“I get so lonely that I will ride the bus route to talk to strangers,” Joyce said. “It’s depressing to be so alone all the time.” People 65 and older are only 12 percent of the population, but characterize 16 percent to 25 percent of suicides, according to Dr. Gary J. Kennedy in an interview with The New York Times. A nonprofit known as H.E.L.P, Helping Elders Live Pleasantly, provides services that would benefit Joyce along with other elders. Its services include indoor/outdoor housework and yard work to help the elders live pleasantly in their own home. It also provides social events that its clients may attend to help decrease the number of depressed seniors. H.E.L.P also provides transportation to and from the event, so its clients can have a social life with other seniors and can travel to and from the event safely. Joyce heard of the organization and got involved. “I am so glad that I called H.E.L.P,” Joyce said. Joyce attended H.E.L.P.’s bingo event night and met her neighbor Jane. “Jane and I visit each other three to four times a week now. Sometimes more than that,” Joyce said. H.E.L.P calls its clients weekly to make sure they are doing well and to ask if their house needs maintenance from changing a light bulb to fixing a leaky roof. The organization also sends an employee every other weekend to visit the clients and help around the house. “This is the happiest I have been in a long time,” Joyce said.

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