Bowling for seniors slated for May 17

Apr. 23—Older adults in Daviess County will be able to strike a mix of recreation and activity during a special bowling event May 17 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Champion Lanes

The event is being put on by Aging Successfully in Daviess County and is open to people age 50 and over.

"We did this during the day so that people who needed transportation could take the bus," said Daviess Community Hospital Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Practitioner Sarah Searl. "It's all free, the bowling, pizza, drinks. We will also have a miniature health fair with access to adult resources and free shirts."

The event is part of a bigger effort by the hospital to improve the quality of life for older adults in Washington from socialization to medical accessibility with a dose of mental health help thrown in.

Transitions at DCH applied to the Department of Mental Health to begin a program geared to older adults in Daviess County. There are already programs designed for youth and recovery, but nothing for those 50 and older. This program is about mental health promotion and substance abuse prevention because they see a lot of revolving door cases in the ER," said Kaylee Bynum Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Practitioner at DCH. "They are things that could be prevented by targeting isolation and things like that."

DCH and Transitions has been working under a $250,000, two-year grant to bring programs and services to fix problems that first showed up during the pandemic and extended after that.

"During COVID 19, we saw an uptick in mental health and substance use cases and a lot of that was due to the isolation aspect. There were programs for kids and young adults but nothing for older adults," said Carrie Shaw, grants coordinator at DCH. "There are organizations now trying to collect the data on the impact on older people and I see more of these programs coming as the data is collected."

The bowling day is just a single event of many Aging Successfully in Daviess County has sponsored and will be holding in the future.

"We do substance free alternative events within the community. The bowling event is one of those. They target older adults and help them with socialization, help them get to know others in the community," said Searl. "We also go around the community doing a program called WISE, which is Wellness Initiative for Senior Education. It is a six-week program and we do activities and play games and teach them about aging, substance misuse and prevention and mental health, healthy lifestyle and try to promote a better quality of life."

"We try to encourage a pro-active approach to addressing the issues that bring people to the ER with mental health concerns or substance abuse. We are looking to stop it before it starts and reduce the rates of that happening in the county," said Bynum.

Officials see the need for the older adult support program simply in the numbers in the county. Daviess, like most rural counties in Indiana, are seeing increasing numbers of older adults. They are trying to take a more holistic approach to health care and mental health.

"If we come across someone who is really struggling, they get referred to our Mobile Integrated Health Program and getting their health care needs met," said Shaw.

"We bring in a lot of information on resources," said Bynum. "A lot of people have lived here all their lives and still do not know what services are available, so we are trying to bridge that gap so that people know about the resources that are available to them and how they can access them."

Searl says that many of their events include speakers who can talk about the programs that are available for the over 50 crowd in Daviess County.

The grant that has supported this effort is expected to end this summer but local officials say they believe in the program enough to go out and seek local funding.

"The program is scheduled to come to an end in July," said Shaw. "We have applied for Community Good Impact Grant and we are hoping they will help us continue to provide the services the older adults in our community need."