Clinical depression among older adults is unfortunately common, affecting ~6 million Americans age 65 and above. This mood disorder often co-occurs with anxiety symptoms, elevates risk of suicide, and adversely affects seniors’ quality of life, productivity, and social and family relations. Although effective treatment is available for late-life depression, only about 10% of affected individuals receive formal care. Novel approaches are therefore needed to expand reach and access of evidence-based programs providing support and psychoeducation to older adults both with and at risk for depression.
Mood Lifters is a paraprofessionally administered, community-based program designed to improve participants’ mental well-being. The 15-week group program draws from proven psychotherapies (including cognitive-behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, and positive psychology) to teach techniques across five domains kep to mental health: sleep, cognition, emotional regulation, social processes, and behavior. In this project, our interdisciplinary team (led by a clinical geropsychologist, geriatric psychiatrist, and specialist in adult development & aging) will adapt the existing Mood Lifters program to tailor it to the specific needs of older adults; the adaptation will focus on issues including transition to retirement, coping with increased health challenges, and loneliness/social isolation.
By obtaining feedback from prior program participants and pilot testing a modified program, we aim to create a version of Mood Lifters that will prove feasible, acceptable, and efficacious for use with seniors. Completion of study aims will yield a scalable program that could be widely disseminated (e.g. via senior centers and senior living communities) to the millions of older adults who could benefit from improved mood and overall mental health.
University of Michigan MCubed program (September 2019 to May 2021).
Scott Roberts, PhD, Principal Investigator
Cathleen Connell, PhD, Co-Investigator
Susan Maixner, MD, Co-Investigator
Rebecca Ferber, MPH, Project Manager
Courtney Funk, MPH Student Intern
Roberts JS, Ferber RA, Funk CN, et al. (2022). Mood Lifters for Seniors: Development and Evaluation of an Online, Peer-Led Mental Health Program for Older Adults. Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine;8.