Senior Strong: Far West Center partners with area senior centers

Over a year ago, eight West Shore senior centers (Avon, Bay Village, Fairview Park, Lakewood, North Olmsted, North Ridgeville, Rocky River and Westlake) worked on a collaborative website, combining eight different activity calendars and newsletter information in one place. The result,, provides an easier platform to obtain resources and information from surrounding communities. The participating senior centers already enjoyed a strong collaborative relationship, so we were natural partners.

Hearing about our collaboration sparked an idea for Kelly Dylag, president and CEO of the Far West Center, a community mental health center serving the West Shore community. The Far West Center strives to help persons achieve their highest level of mental health and well-being.

Knowing that senior centers play an essential role in the emotional health and well-being of their members, the idea for “Senior Strong” was hatched. With the help of Bob Piovarchy, clinical supervisor and program coordinator, the program received grant funding through the ADAMHS Board (Alcohol Drug and Mental Health Services).

Senior Strong is an innovative program linking area senior centers and the Far West Center as partners to assist older adults strengthen emotional health, build resilience, and reduce the risk of suicide and other mental health problems. The goal is to reduce risk factors for mental health issues through increased awareness of good mental health practices, educational sessions around anxiety, depression, loneliness, fear, loss and trauma, and coping skill development for stress management and life satisfaction. 

Another goal involves training senior center staff in early identification of trouble signs. One of the best parts is that these services are delivered onsite at the senior centers to help reduce the stigma barrier that can exist for people seeking mental health help.

Over the past couple of years, Bob Piovarchy has already been co-facilitating a monthly program here at the Westlake Senior and Community Services Center called "Aging Alone." The idea is that every month we address topics that cause worry for seniors who live alone. The meeting quickly became popular, and soon our roomful of seniors was “Aging Alone …Together.” The Senior Strong program is a nice addition to this valuable program.

Senior Strong will be presenting a weekly series titled "Mental Health Matters" at the Westlake Senior and Community Services Center. Participants will learn to promote strong emotional health, reduce risk factors, develop supportive relationships and coping skills. The program is facilitated by a licensed counselor and is offered free of charge. It will take place on Thursdays beginning April 4. Call 440-899-3544 to reserve your seat.

In addition to this, the Far West counselor can meet individually with seniors up to three times, also free of charge.

All and all, Senior Strong is a great opportunity for seniors. For more information, contact Donna Feorene, Westlake Senior and Community Services outreach coordinator, at 440-899-3544. The Westlake Center is located at 29694 Center Ridge Road.

Lydia Gadd

I am the Director of the Senior and Community Services Department for the City of Westlake. I am also a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor.

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Volume 11, Issue 7, Posted 9:50 AM, 04.02.2019