Depression In Older Pittsburghers Is Dropping

Jul 11, 2019

 

On today’s program: A 30-year Pitt study finds depression symptoms are decreasing in Pittsburgh's youngest seniors; President Trump replaces the Clean Power Plan; a Penn Hills senior housing community is struggling with mold; operas composed by Mr. Rogers are set to premiere in Shadyside; and family members of mentally ill individuals refusing treatment are at a legal stand-still.

Depression rates are dropping among older Pittsburghers
(00:00 — 11:51)

People in the Mon Valley ages 65 and older are experiencing fewer depression symptoms than previously reported.

A new study authored in part by Dr. Kevin Sullivan, a psychiatric epidemiolist at the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public Health, looked at how over 3,000 older people in communities across Southwestern Pennsylvanians are aging physically and mentally. The study finds people born more recently report fewer symptoms than cohorts from earlier birth decades.

“Our job when looking at these effects is to really disentangle what was different, and in the case that many of these trends were positive, really we want to know what went right,” he says.

Sullivan says data suggests the region's youngest seniors may have received better health treatment throughout their lives, leading to healthier retirements and fewer symptoms of depression over time. 

President Trump replaces Obama-era Clean Power Plan
(13:12 — 17:12)

President Donald Trump recently enacted the Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule mandating minor improvements in efficiency at coal-fired power plants—and effectively undoing many provisions from the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, which encouraged states to drop coal for cleaner energy sources.

Former Obama counselor for energy and climate change Jody Freeman—a critic of the ACE rule—spoke with The Allegheny Front’s Reid Frazier about the potential net-increase of greenhouse gases that may come as a result of the legislation’s alleged intention to extend the lifespan of coal-powered plants. She says citizens should pay attention to the rule's inevitable day in court.

“A policy that says that it’s supposed to be reducing pollution actually increases it under certain projections,” Freeman says. “And I think a court might have a hard time with that and say, 'How could this be defended as a rational plan?'”

Senior housing battles mold for more than a year
(17:13 — 21:22)

Mold was discovered last year in Beechtree Commons, a low-income senior housing community in Penn Hills. 90.5 WESA’s Margaret J Krauss spoke with residents still living in conditions that aggravate their immune systems—some of whom fear relocation in the event of a community shutdown.

Credit Courtesy of Pittsburgh Festival Opera

Fred Rogers' one-acts get their operatic debut
(21:23 — 29:44)

Fred Rogers wrote more than a dozen short operas that started airing on his show in late 1960s, but none have ever been performed live. Pittsburgh Festival Opera will rectify that this weekend when it stages 1980's “Windstorm in Bubbleland” back to back with 1982’s “Spoon Mountain.” The works are part of its 2019 season, alongside classics composed by the likes of Puccini, Strauss and Wagner.

“Windstorm” and “Spoon Mountain” are directed by Tome’ Cousins, who played Prince Tuesday’s companion, “Ragdoll Tommy,” on “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.” Cousins spoke with 91.3 WYEP's Rosemary Welsch about Mr. Rogers' clever way of introducing opera to a young audience while still instilling the values of friendship and humanity.

Find more information about dates and showtimes here

Mother calls for change to PA's involuntary commitment standard
(29:45 — 36:38)

Families of mentally-ill adults often face legal roadblocks when loved ones in the throes of a mental health crisis refuse to voluntarily seek help. Often police become involved, which can inadvertantly route them into the prison system, rather than getting the treatment they need. WITF’s Brett Sholtis reports that these situations have led to debates over PA Act 106, which would allow for the involuntary commitment in some situations.

90.5 WESA's Julia Zenkevich, Julia Maruca and Hannah Gaskill contributed to this program.

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.