For 80-year-old Gail, nothing prepared her for the heartbreak of losing her whole family within the space of a year.

“Three years ago, I lost my husband to cancer, and then the following year I lost my only daughter to cancer. I can’t even begin to explain the pain I felt,” Gail said.

Gail’s mental health took a turn for the worst. She felt very alone and isolated and didn’t want to leave her house.

“I moved from my family home into a transitional care facility, and then when a room was available at Juniper Riverslea Residential Aged Care Home, I moved in. The staff picked up straight away that I was depressed.”

According to Health Direct, the three main causes of depression in older people are poor physical health, social isolation, and loss in old age, and for Gail, she was experiencing two of these.

“The staff at Riverslea made the extra effort to look after me. They got me assessed by a second doctor who changed my medication, and they made sure I was involved in all social activities and had good people around me. That’s when I became friends with Ivy, and now we both spend a lot of time together.”

“For someone who is experiencing bad mental health, all they want is peace of mind, and thanks to the help of Juniper Riverslea, I have that now. I am finally at ease, I am happy, and I feel well,” Gail said.

Liz Frehner, Juniper Riverslea Residential Manager said the staff at Juniper Riverslea were very happy they could help Gail find peace after experiencing such loss.

“Our staff are trained to recognise and respond to our residents’ mental health needs and ensure all residents have person-centred support. We want to make the most of our resident’s life, that’s why we support them to get the best out of each day,” Liz said.

This World Mental Health Day, Monday 10 October, the message is to ‘Look after your mental health, Australia’, and Gail wants people to know that there is hope.

“World Mental Health Day is on the eve of the anniversary of my daughter’s passing, and I want everyone to know that you can still find peace later on in life,” Gail said.

If you or someone close to you is in distress or immediate danger dial 000 as soon as possible. To speak to a mental health care professional call Lifeline 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue 1300 22 4363 – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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