PEARLS Participant Stories

Here are stories about the success of PEARLS participants, shared by PEARLS providers and clients.

PEARLS: Program to Encourage Active, Rewarding Lives from Mapping Voices on Vimeo.

PEARLS-Digital Story-Final-2013 from Aging and Disability Services on Vimeo.




Christina is a 63-year-old client in the PEARLS Program and her story is a successful one. The client started with a PHQ-9 score of 19 and now she is in session 5 with a PHQ-9 score of 5. During her initial session her depression was due to financial problems, lack of social and physical activity, and family dynamics. As the sessions took place she had been encouraged to develop solutions for these challenges, which were causing her depression and stress. Her solution to her financial stress was developing a budget where she uses her money for emergency purposes only. She had also been encouraged to do light exercises; the client uses a stationary bicycle at least once a day for 10 minutes and she also goes on walks with her son in the morning and in the afternoons.

Christina also increased her social activities by engaging in more family gatherings. The main problem bothering Christina was the complex relationship her son had with his father. During one of the session Christina’s son approached me and asked for help. He mentioned that he felt depressed and occasionally would think of hurting himself. I talked to him and asked if he currently has a plan of how he is going to hurt himself, but he did not. Her son was referred to Mental Health access team, where he received counseling. Within the third session, the client mentioned the relationship between her son and husband was better. She was very happy about that. Due to their improved relationship, she is no longer stressed. During our sessions, the client and I have built a rapport that has aided her success in the PEARLS program. She now feels confident and uplifted to live a happy and healthy life.


Donna (65 yrs of age) was feeling herself going into a direction of minor depression due to health complications. However, somewhere within herself, she knew that through her situations there is always hope. As she was referred to the PEARLS program she made the decision to aim for it. The year 2014 started off with many struggles in her health. Before this she was very active and desperate to get better emotionally and physically.

With her being involved with the PEARLS program she was able to learn problem solving techniques. Her goal was to become active in physical and pleasant activities in her home because her mobility was limited. Client worked on increasing her walking that will help her lungs and legs to become stronger no matter how difficult her breathing became. She knew and learned the more she kept it repetitive that eventually both her lungs and strength would increase and it did.

Although today the client still deals with mobility limitations, she has learned to become positive and to remain engaged as much as possible. Client has realized that PST’s, daily activation, and encouragement really helps reduce depression. Today she knows she is going to be more than okay. She reminds herself on a daily basis to uplift herself by engaging in pleasant activities, especially, when she starts to feel any unpleasant feelings. She is now able to recognize and manage her feelings more on a positive level verses a negative one. Client was provided with incentive tools for crocheting purchased through the program. She is currently crocheting baby blankets for newborn babies in the hospital who may be less fortunate. She has been excited working on this project. Overall, she believes this program has helped her in many ways. Below is a table of Donna’s growth during her sessions and how she is living today. She is very thankful for the PEARLS program.

Before During & After PEARLS program Completion
Described her health as poor Very good
Some social activities/

Rarely visits or volunteers

Quite active

(7x week) communicating socially with visits or phone calls

Outdoor outings 2-3 times week , church or going out to dinner

Volunteer work at her church kitchen making soup to sell. (1 x a week)

No physical activities Walks 2-4 times week (short distance) and

Light leg and arm stretches

Some pleasant activities 4-5 times a week (crocheting, reading, arts & crafts making crosses or cooking soups to sell for church)
PHQ-9 (7) = minor depression. Final PHQ- 9 score (0) = no depression


My Client’s Improvement, by Evelyn Parada

Just after being asked to share a PEARLS client story, I immediately thought of the gentleman who recently graduated from our program. Over several months of problem solving with encouragement he slowly overcame many obstacles. The changes were dramatic. His progress continues today with the help of a social worker in his senior residential building. He agreed to share his journey with a snapshot of his “then” and “now”.


A 61 y.o. African-American man living in an SRO hotel room with a small bathroom, no refrigerator, no microwave, no access to outgoing phone calls, no direct sunlight, no social services or security in the building. Daughter calls him 1x/week from Indiana. No primary care physician and believes he does not need a regular doctor. He has depressive symptoms and passive suicidal ideation. He suffers from regular headaches possibly from using prescription glasses that are 10 years old. Attends continuing educations classes 4x/week but considers himself socially isolated due to difficulty with language and self-expression resulting from a stroke. Receives home delivered meals and uses a mini cooler with ice to store beverages and leftovers.

NOW: 8 months later

A 62 y.o. African-American man living independently in a senior residential building studio. Has a bathroom with ample space & safety features such as grab bars, shower seat and walk-in shower. Includes full size refrigerator, microwave, sink, window with direct sunlight, telephone with access to out-going calls as well as social services and security in the building. Daughter calls him 3-4x/week and he can also call her. Now has regular doctor and believes this is good “because God and my daughter want me to be taken care of.” CLT wants to be well enough to see her again. No depressive symptoms or suicidal ideation. Accessed free Optometry exam, was informed he is blind in one eye and purchased new prescription glasses. He longer gets headaches. He still attends continuing educations classes 4x/week. Has difficulty verbalizing his feelings at times but has expressed being happy overall and believes his new living condition is “heaven sent.” Has reduced social isolation, received support from residents and staff and comments “These people are awfully nice here.” He is proud to say, “I’m able to do for myself now,” such as heating or cooking food, buying and storing fresh food & beverages, access to hot meals in the dining hall downstairs and access to calling his daughter any time. Daughter who lives in Indiana expressed immense gratitude and is considering coming to visit him.

When I showed him the two descriptions of “then” and “now” he expressed his gratitude and shared, “I did not know how much I was missing, all this” as he motioned upward and around the room with his arms and eyes. “I like my “now” way WAY better… because it includes my daughter.”

Positive Results, by S.F.

I was skeptical when I started to participate in the PEARLS program. My wife asked me to try it. I did this to appease her and did not expect any results. Since I agreed to give the program a try, I figured I may as well give it the effort necessary.

I met Tiffany and she seemed pleasant. The first thing we did was begin our session with a group of questions regarding my well being and answer with a grade from “Not at All” to “Several Days.”

We then discussed goals and results of these goals. In order to achieve these objectives, Tiffany had me list pros and cons of each goal. Usually these sessions would focus on one particular goal.

I was getting over surgery and had not been able to walk for over a year. My first goal was getting into a swimming pool. With the physical help of my son, I did it.

Tiffany was outstanding, a real pro. I found myself wanting to make progress to please her, in the beginning. As the weeks past, I found myself looking forward to our sessions. The depression I had for so long slowly regressed. My strength began to return, and as I graded each session, my chart showed that I was becoming less negative.

In order to put my situation in perspective, I need to add that about five weeks before starting the sessions with Tiffany, I was told by my doctors that I most likely would never walk again. They were wrong. I became very stubborn about not walking and kept trying. At the end of our eight meeting, I was finally walking some. I need a cane, but that’s okay.

I really believe Tiffany Campbell helped me achieve that goal. She never judged me nor patronized me. She was very respectful and actually made a connection with me.

In conclusion, am I still skeptical? Yes, for that is my nature. Were my sessions helpful? Absolutely! So regardless of my nature, the results were positive.

Changes Started When he Reached Out for Help, by C.P.

I am a 64 year old, low-income senior with a Veteran’s disability award. Pain, lack of things to do and the fact that I have no money left after paying my bills cause me to be in a constant state of depression since I moved here. I’d been lying in bed watching TV for months, only getting up to fix something to eat or check my mail. In January, I saw a flyer in the laundry room that outlined the “PEARLS Program”. It sounded like it might help me. I called and set up an appointment with a lady named Evelyn Parada, who came to my house to set up a program specifically for me.

Evelyn immediately helped me outline my problems and set up a positive plan to work toward getting me active again. During our first session, she introduced me to a form called the “PEARLS Worksheet”. This form allows you to take a particular problem each week and outline goals and possible solutions, showing the advantages and disadvantages to each action. Then you choose a solution to work on and 5 attempts to achieving the solution. It also allows you to plan something pleasant, physical and social to do for the week.

The first week we outlined a plan to quit smoking. I was shocked at the progress I made reducing my smoking from 7 packs a week to three. This decreased my expenses from $150.00 per month to about $57.00. Some of my financial solutions were met as well. I found myself looking forward to our weekly meetings and was getting out of the house about four days per week doing something toward a positive solution to problems that were keeping me depressed. I started riding my bike with a friend at least once per week and going to coffee shops with friends.

I was also introduced to resources I did not know about. Elder Law Center helped me with tenant landlord problems. I found an SSDI attorney to help with an appeal. I found free veterinary care for my cat. I got help repairing an expensive transmission job on my car. Worked out a plan to help reduce pain through an affordable Chiropractor and other treatments I was not doing. Since our sessions have been reduced to once per month, I’ve been falling into some old patterns, but at least I have found tools to help me make life more meaningful. I wish this program was able to afford more weekly session, for a longer period of time.

I highly recommend the [PEARLS program] for other elderly people who suffer from depression. I feel like after about three months I am at least 50% better off than before. Thank you for your help.