Tribune Print Share Text

Got the blues?

Avoid the winter doldrums with exercise and social interaction

Created date

January 12th, 2017
Rose Mary Cheek and Mazie Grace, a Cavalier King Charles spaniel, won the pet/owner look-alike award at Seabrook’s annual Dog Show and Pet Expo.

Rose Mary Cheek and Mazie Grace, a Cavalier King Charles spaniel, won the pet/owner look-alike award at Seabrook’s annual Dog Show and Pet Expo.

Feeling blue this time of year? The winter doldrums aren’t just an old wives’ tale.

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a form of depression, commonly sets in as the days grow shorter. Though studies have shown that SAD primarily affects younger people, in particular women in their 20s to 40s, it can affect older adults too, especially those isolated at home with little to no social interaction.

However, for those who deal with SAD, exercise and social interaction can help. 

The active lifestyle at Seabrook, a vibrant continuing care retirement community in Tinton Falls, N.J., has helped Barbara Kouri avoid the blues any time of year. 

Indoor convenience

“Seabrook is a great place to be in the wintertime because you really don’t have to leave here to get involved with a lot of activities,” she says. The community features a fitness center, aquatics center, classrooms, arts and crafts rooms, and an auditorium. 

Residents don’t even have to venture out for doctors’ appointments, groceries, the pharmacy, or the bank. It’s all right there on campus. And glass-enclosed, climate-controlled walkways connect every building, so walking outside in the cold is unnecessary.

“As a matter a fact,” says Barbara, “it’s kind of fun to stand on the glass-enclosed bridge and watch the snow coming down knowing you don’t have to go out and shovel it.”

Young living

Barbara moved to Seabrook at the age of 62—the youngest age Seabrook accepts residents—so she could take advantage of all the amenities and activities, all 120 of them. “I came here as soon as I was able to, and I’ve never regretted it,” she says.

Barbara partakes in several exercise classes in the on-site fitness center, including Zumba, line dancing, and Pilates. “You feel really good when you’re done,” she says.

When she’s not increasing endorphins through physical fitness, she’s exercising her brain with group games like mah-jongg, canasta, or Scrabble. “There’s always something going on here; you’re never bored,” she says.

Even community members who prefer to keep to themselves can stay socially involved. A group of four women cheer up the entire community through their humorous talk show The Girls, which airs on Seabrook’s community TV channel, features discussions of current events, health tips, comedy routines, and heartwarming stories. 

Judy Sullivan, Amy Volz, Rona Mininni, and Judy Tier host the show and produce it in the on-site TV studio. Barbara acts as their advisor. 

“I’m like their sounding board,” Barbara says. “They’re a fun group if you want to get cheered up.”

Of the entire Seabrook community, Barbara says, “We’re just a very positive and cheerful bunch, and we keep each other happy. We enjoy being together—like right now, I’m going to meet a group for dinner and then we’re going to play Scrabble afterward. If you’re feeling blue, there’s always somebody to cheer you up.”

Cheer up with children

Barbara Kouri has volunteered with kindergartners to second graders at the Mahala Atchison School in Tinton Falls, N.J., for the past five years, and she says it’s the best way to stay positive.

“If you want to get cheered up, the best way to do it is to be with children,” she says.

Volunteers from Seabrook visit the school on Tuesday mornings to lead fun learning activities. 

“It makes them happy, and we get a lot in return,” says Barbara.

Furry friends brighten any day

People and children aren’t the only ones who make others happy. Pets do too. Each October, Seabrook celebrates its pets with an annual Dog Show and Pet Expo. 

Owners and their dogs parade through the community’s Town Square Activity Room. This past October, some of the breeds represented included St. Bernard, beagle, pug, Cavalier King Charles spaniel, labradoodle, and bulldog.  

The pet-friendly event also included a pet blessing by Seabrook Pastoral Ministries Manager David Bowman, local vendors, live caricature drawings of pet and owner, and a collection drive for the Associated Humane Society of Tinton Falls.

Seabrook is a pet-friendly community featuring a dog park, pet club, walking paths, and pet-friendly activities.