Retirement Community in Milwaukee Warns About and Provides Advice on Seasonal Depression

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Alexian Village of Milwaukee supports and gives residents helpful information to stay mentally healthy during the winter months

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The days grow darker sooner and the cold wind increases. Welcome to the season of winter when some people may experience the unwelcome guest of a growing isolation. Alexian Village, a retirement community in Milwaukee is happy to provide advice to residents. Advice that is applicable to all. “Isolation begins very slowly, especially as we age,” according to Alexian Village of Milwaukee Health Services director, Karri Sears. “In winter we tend to be indoors much more and people can neglect important health opportunities to interact with others. During the winter months, older adults need to be extra careful not to separate themselves from neighbors, family or friends as it can have a direct impact on health.”

Isolation can slowly lead to depression, which then encourages more isolation. “It’s a vicious cycle where one symptom slowly leads or becomes something else,” according to Alexian Village’s Linda Paulson, BSN, MBA. “It’s common to feel lonely at times in life but if other symptoms present themselves, then depression can easily occur.”

The National Institute of Mental Health lists these warning signs:

  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
  • Fatigue and decreased energy
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness or helplessness
  • Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
  • Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
  • Irritability, restlessness
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
  • Overeating or appetite loss
  • Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment
  • Persistent sad, anxious, or empty feelings
  • Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts

“Staying connected is very important for older adults,” says Rev. Joe Jagodensky, SDS, Director of Pastoral Care at Alexian Village. “As we get older there are so many losses, personal and in family, that special attention needs to be paid to the temptation to separate ourselves from others. It can easily become a habit that we take for granted as just another part of aging when it is not, at all.”

Knowing depression’s symptoms can help you head them off. Being aware of winter’s isolation and possible depression can lead people to create creative measures to stay involved and connected. Karri Sears offers these suggestions: “Visiting and walking through a mall during a winter afternoon can add activity and necessary light to the day. Exercise, even simple ones, can awaken endorphins that trigger positive mood and good feelings. Calling friends can help even if the conversation is only about the weather. If anxious feelings arise don’t be afraid to talk about it, we’re all susceptible to periodic “winter blahs.” Relaxing with a good book or enjoyable music can have a calming effect. Identifying the time of day that is the most difficult to live through can encourage filling that time cleverly. For many people the transition at dusk is a troubling time. Why do you think bars have ‘Happy Hour’ during that time? Filling that time with something positive can counteract feeling low or alone. It may sound silly but making a point to make a store clerk or cashier smile can help you smile yourself.”

To an extent, we can manage our attitudes and dispositions. We all have what’s called ‘situational depression’ which is just a part of life. But a lingering feeling of worthlessness or meaningless can be very dangerous, especially for older adults. If these feelings persist, you may want to seek out support groups or professional counseling.


Alexian Village of Milwaukee is one of the most valued continuing care retirement communities in Wisconsin. Alexian Village offers Independent Apartments, Assisted Living, Rehabilitative Services, Skilled Nursing and Adult Day Services. 9301 N. 76th Street, Milwaukee, WI. 53223 |

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Rev. Joe Jagodensky, SDS
Alexian Village of Milwaukee
+1 (414) 357-5105 Ext: 5558
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