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Healthy IDEAS program helps area seniors battle depression

Steve Harmic

Sep 19, 2022

Providing evidence-based programming and the availability of mental health services for older adults and their families.

CURWENSVILLE, Pa. – September is Suicide Prevention Month, and professionals at the Clearfield County Area Agency on Aging (CCAAA) hope to reduce depressive and suicidal thoughts this month, and all year long, with the Healthy IDEAS program. (Identifying Depression, Empowering Activities for Seniors).

The CCAAA offers this nation-wide program to Clearfield County seniors who may suffer from depression or depressive thoughts. Originally developed by Baylor College of Medicine’s Huffington Center on Aging, in Houston, Texas, with the intention is to provide evidence-based programming and the availability of mental health services for older adults and their families. It has been successfully integrated into the case management practice in 26 states, reaching elders with underserved mental health needs and high risk for depression.

Agency care managers who notice depressive symptoms in consumers, or who are alerted to these symptoms by a consumer’s family members, will begin by initiating an assessment of the individual. Should it be determined the individual can benefit from the Healthy Ideas Program, care managers will continue to educate the consumer about depression, link them with primary care and mental health providers, and empower them by identifying meaningful activities they can participate in.

CCAAA Care Manager Supervisor Brandi Hepfer explained, “The Healthy Ideas Program has had many successful results with our consumers in the county. The consumer enjoys picking out an activity they would like to try, or a task they would like to accomplish, and this program helps them to break down the activities into smaller goals that they can reach.”

Hepfer said the completion of any task, large or small, can help someone living with depression to begin to heal. Those with severe symptoms may find that even the simplest tasks feel as if they’re monumental. She revealed, “We had a consumer that had a goal of working on cleaning off her dining room table so that she could invite family over for dinner. The program helped her to figure out what steps she needed to take to accomplish this goal and a time frame to do it in that was reasonable. She was able to get the entire table cleaned off and invited family over for dinner. By being able to set a goal and complete each step, this consumer felt happy and excited that she was able to do this on her own. It gave her something to work for and look forward to doing each day, which decreased the depressive symptoms she was experiencing. It also provided her time with family, which also went a long way in lifting her spirits.

“Another consumer enjoyed having a list in front of him of things he enjoyed or took pleasure in doing, so when he would start to feel sad or depressed, he would quickly get out his list, pick an item from that list and the feelings he had while doing that activity helped decrease those depressed feelings.”

After initial plans are mapped out with a care manager, consumers’ progress will continue to be monitored, and continual support offered as needed.

For more information on services offered by the CCAAA visit or call 814-765-2696.

For more information on the Healthy Ideas Program visit

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