By Nicole Long, MSW, LICSW,   

CEO of Old Colony Elder Services   

May is Mental Health Awareness Month – a time to create a better understanding of mental health issues and advocate for mental health services in our communities.  

Times have changed. Mental health and self-care (caring for your own well-being) are now front and center on a national level. This is a good thing. However, it is important to continue the conversation and outreach on a local level to ensure that everyone has access to behavioral health services and supports. 

Anyone can find it difficult to cope with stress, change, or challenging situations, but older adults who are confined to their homes due to disease or disability or who may not have family and friends nearby may find it more difficult. Lack of social contact or isolation can increase stress and bring feelings of sadness or loneliness.  

Caring for your own well-being 

While it is impossible to completely avoid stress, caring for your own well-being and having a self-care routine can help you cope. Self-care is about understanding your own needs and taking steps to stay physically, mentally and emotionally well.  

Here are a few ways to practice self-care every day: 

– Adopt a diet that is well-balanced and rich with various fruits and vegetables. Be sure to limit sweets. 

– Exercise on a regular basis. Exercise not only keeps you physically healthy, but it improves your mental health since it causes your body to release chemicals that can improve your mood. 

– Try to get approximately eight hours of sleep a night. Going to bed and getting up at the same time every day will help you develop healthy sleeping habits. 

– Take part in an activity or find a project that you enjoy and look forward to doing. It’s also important to keep up with your medical care. Avoid delaying appointments with your physician or other medical professionals. 

Reach out for support 

Grief, loss, and other mental health challenges are all part of life. If you are feeling sad, anxious, or not like yourself, it’s important to reach out. Talk with your healthcare provider or another trusted individual about how you are feeling. 

Unsure of where to turn? Old Colony Elder Services’ Behavioral Health Services program staff can provide various options to support you through difficult times.  

OCES has an Elder Mental Health Outreach Team (EMHOT) that provides behavioral health and wellness resources to adults age 60+ and people with disabilities who may be isolated or encounter barriers that limit access to behavioral health care. EMHOT supports people with complex behavioral health conditions, chronic illness, substance misuse, or who are in crisis situations that may require counseling or long-term care management to improve overall well-being. 

For resources and to learn more about OCES’ Behavioral Health Services, visit or call 508-584-1561. 

About the Author: Nicole Long is the Chief Executive Officer of Old Colony Elder Services (OCES). Founded in 1974, OCES is a private, non-profit organization proudly serving greater Plymouth County and surrounding communities. OCES is designated as one of 25 Aging Services Access Points (ASAPs) in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. OCES’s mission is to support the independence and dignity of older adults and individuals with disabilities by providing essential information and services that promote healthy and safe living. The agency offers a number of programs to serve older adults, individuals with disabilities, their families and caregivers. For more information call 508-584-1561 or visit