ALTON — Blanche Mager probably didn’t realize it at the time, but now she knows that she had practically “given up” in late 2013.
“I wasn’t answering my phone and my daughter knew that something wasn’t right,” said Mager, an 86-year-old Alton resident. “I was brought to the ER four times in two weeks. After that, I was placed on the Geropsych floor.”
Assisted living was considered as an option, but Mager and her family decided not to give up her Alton apartment just yet. Instead, Mager started attending sessions at the Center for Senior Renewal on the second floor of Alton Memorial Hospital’s Olin Wing.
“Before they discharged me, they brought me over here,” said Mager, 86. “I just decided that whatever it takes to get well, I would do it.”
It’s an ongoing process, but Mager has made great strides since then. Her frequency of visits has changed — sometimes as often as three times a week but sometimes only once. But her individual and group sessions with therapist Montana Brown have helped make Mager one of the “stars” of Senior Renewal.
“Blanche is now probably our biggest cheerleader,” Brown said. “It is so nice to see how she interacts with a new person up here to make them feel comfortable about coming.”
Even at the age of 86, Mager realizes it’s never too late to learn.
“I just didn’t realize I was so ignorant about depression,” she said. “They helped me to remember that it’s OK to make a mistake. And then I remembered that I used to knit all the time. But the problem was getting started. Now I knit all the time, including when I’m here. Everyone has to do something besides just sit around.
“Senior Renewal is wonderful. They have a van that picks me up at home and I always enjoy seeing everyone here. We laugh a lot, but we also get serious at times when it’s needed. Like a lot of people, I have trouble around the holidays, but my friends here help me with that, too.”
For information, call (618) 463-7895 or visit www.altonmemorialhospital.org/Medical-Services/Senior-Care/Center-for-Senior-Renewal.