Aging with Support: Senior Life Solutions for Mental Wellness

Happy group of seniorsDoor County Medical Center (DCMC) joins the nationwide observance of Older Americans Month (OAM) this May. Celebrating its inaugural year, this event serves as a poignant reminder to honor the enduring contributions of older adults while highlighting the evolving landscape of aging trends. Under the theme "Powered by Connection," this year's OAM underscores the impact of meaningful relationships and social connections on the health and well-being of older adults.

While aging brings many positive experiences, such as more time for family, pursuing interests, and gaining wisdom through life's journey, it also presents challenges. Navigating the complexities of mental health in later life can be tough, which is where Senior Life Solutions steps in to provide support.

Jennalee Lundquist
Jennalee Lundquist

"A lot of older adults believe depression and anxiety are normal parts of aging. That's simply not true," says Jennalee Lundquist, RN, BSN, Program Director of DCMC Senior Life Solutions. "Symptoms of a mental health condition can lead someone to isolate themselves and give up activities they once enjoyed. We help our patients create social connections, gain a new perspective, and learn to manage symptoms of mental health disorders so they can live happier and healthier lives."

DCMC Senior Life Solutions

Senior Life Solutions logoIn November 2020, Door County Medical Center partnered with Senior Life Solutions (SLS), a nationwide program dedicated to addressing the emotional and behavioral health of older adults. Developed in collaboration with Psychiatric Medical Care, SLS represents a concerted effort to fill the gap in behavioral health services for older adults, particularly in rural areas.

SLS offers an intensive outpatient group therapy program tailored to meet the unique needs of adults, typically aged 65 and older, who are grappling with symptoms of depression and anxiety commonly associated with aging.

"We create a supportive environment where older adults can forge meaningful connections and strengthen social ties through psychiatric evaluations, medication management, group and individual therapy, family counseling, and wellness checks," explains Lundquist.

How does the Senior Life Solutions Program work?

Senior man at group therapy sessionJoining SLS typically begins with a referral from a physician, family member, or friend—or even a self-referral—followed by a free individual psychiatric assessment. After this initial step, patients convene in a supportive group setting up to three times a week and individually meet once a month with a psychiatrist. In these group sessions, members share personal experiences and strengths, fostering a sense of camaraderie and boosting self-esteem. Through interaction and feedback, each member gains insight into their challenges all while forming a connection with others facing similar struggles.

"Participants realize they are not alone and help each other heal," remarks Lundquist. "There's a real power in group therapy—making connections, embracing vulnerability, and accepting imperfection. Group members offer practical advice to each other to overcome difficulties and provide accountability. Hearing diverse experiences puts individual struggles into perspective, alleviating feelings of isolation and creating a sense of solidarity." 

According to Lundquist, those who complete the program report a significant decrease in feelings of sadness, frustration, and worry. "We screen participants before, during, and near the end of treatment and the vast majority of people who complete Senior Life Solutions show a 56% improvement on the geriatric depression scale along with a 51% improvement on a scale known as the CORE-10 (clinical outcomes in routine evaluation)."

Many participants emerge from the program with a newfound sense of energy and direction, reclaiming aspects of their lives that were previously overshadowed by mental health challenges.

Dr. Nina Jordania headshot
Dr. Nina Jordania

At the heart of SLS's success lies a dedicated team of professionals led by, a seasoned psychiatrist. The team collaborates to provide personalized care and support to program participants. "From our licensed therapist, Elizabeth Ziolkowski, to our office patient coordinator, Kristina Blackley, each member plays a crucial role in ensuring that our participants receive the highest standard of care," explains Lundquist, who as a registered nurse focuses on participants' overall wellness and oversees the program's day-to-day operations.

Is Senior Life Solutions Right for You?

Many older adults struggle with life changes such as the loss of a loved one, taking on the role of caregiver to another family member, dealing with a physical diagnosis, or a change in living conditions. All of these things can cause people to become depressed if they don't know how to manage their emotions and stop ruminating on negative thoughts.

Occasionally feeling down is a normal part of life, but if these feelings last a few weeks or months, you may be dealing with something more serious.

If you or someone you know has experienced any of the following, SLS might be right for you.

  • Anxiety
  • Changes in appetite
  • Depression
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Feelings of sadness or grief lasting more than two weeks
  • Feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness
  • Lost a spouse or close family member
  • Loss of energy
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • Recently experienced a traumatic event

The transformative impact of Senior Life Solutions extends far beyond the confines of therapy sessions, as evidenced by the life-changing outcomes reported by program participants. For more information about DCMC Senior Life Solutions, please call: (920) 746-3778 or visit our Senior Life Solutions page.

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