We often hear about the importance of mental health awareness in the younger generations. But, not nearly enough is said about the reality of senior mental health crises. The younger generations, such as Generation Z and millennials, tend to be more open about their mental health. However, that doesn’t mean generations such as Baby Boomers don’t need mental healthcare. So, Michael Fitzgerald, the Director of Behavioral Health at Doctors Hospital in Sarasota, Florida took action and brought our attention to Serenity Place at Doctor’s Hospital. 

What Is Serenity Place?

“Serenity Place is an acute care inpatient behavioral health unit of 16 beds,” Michael wrote. The facility differs from others in two major ways:

  1. It’s voluntary. Serenity place does not take involuntary patients. That means the patients at Serenity Place all willingly seek help and ask to be placed into the facility’s care. According to Michael, they “do not accept patients who are on involuntary hold for assessment.”
  2. They focus solely on patients who are 50 years of age and older, which helps the program maintain focus on recovery. 

Why Is It Important To Have A Facility Dedicated To Senior Mental Health?

“At Serenity Place, patients must have a primary mental health diagnosis to be eligible for treatment,” Michael says. For example, this could include, but not be limited to: Major Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Primary Anxiety Disorder, Schizoaffective Disorder, Schizophrenia, or PTSD.

These patients may not have close family or friends to turn to when looking for help. Senior patients now have a safe place to go when experiencing a crisis; their typical stay at Serenity Place lasts for about 10 days. Michael says, “The time in the program depends on how quickly patients’ symptoms have resolved and the type of insurance they have.”

After the inpatient portion of the program is completed, it’s recommended the patients go through an outpatient follow-up.

“Mental health issues can often be chronic in nature. This is why we have a continuum of treatment options.”

Michael Fitzgerald

What May Trigger A Senior Mental Health Crisis?

“Older adults tend to go into crisis as a result of both physical and emotional issues,” Michael says. “Older adults may experience many changes in life as they age. Things like mobility issues, chronic pain, loss of a spouse or pet, isolation, loneliness, lack of purpose can be significant triggers for going into a crisis.”

Family members can find help for their love ones by calling Serenity Place (941-342-4462) to speak with one of our highly qualified staff.

You can find information in an area near you through NAMI and other resources such as Reach Out Recovery.


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Samantha Curreli
Samantha Curreli is a staff writer at Reach Out Recovery. Sam is also a graduate of Arcadia University's MFA in Creative Writing Program and a freelance journalist for New Jersey music magazine, The Aquarian Weekly. She has had multiple pieces of fiction published in literary magazines and short story anthologies.

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