Free In-Home Counseling for Older King County Veterans and Spouses

From 1966–1968, I served with army artillery in Viet Nam. For years I thought I was tough enough to handle any problem that came my way. After all, I'm a trained professional—a social worker and case manager—and I volunteer with the St. James Cathedral Mental Health Ministry. But when my father and then my wife passed away, I realized I needed to reach out for help. I'm thankful I had good advice and I sought counseling. Now I work to help other vets connect with a free in-home counseling program called the Program to Encourage Active Rewarding Lives (PEARLS).

PEARLS helps veterans learn problem-solving skills and become more physically and socially active. Participants experience eight in-home counseling sessions over a period of five months, followed by three monthly follow-up phone calls.

The program is open to veterans age 55 and older who live in King County. Veterans' spouses, domestic partners, and widows may also be eligible.

The evidence-based PEARLS program works. Originally developed at the University of Washington, the program is now offered in cities around the country. Client Lemar W. said, "My counselor was a good listener and role model. I started thinking positive thoughts, set goals, focused on what I can do, and applied myself."

The Journal of the American Medical Association (April 7, 2004) reported that "PEARLS…significantly reduced depressive symptoms and improved health status in chronically medically ill older adults."

If you know an older veteran who seems depressed, please refer them to Paul Snow, Aging and Disability Services, at 206-615-0533 or paul.snow@seattle.gov. To learn more about PEARLS, visit www.agingkingcounty.org/veterans.

—Paul Snow, Aging and Disability Services