Mental Health

Lighten Up: Promoting Well-Being Later in Life
(Stage 2 Research Project)

Lighten Up is a program that promotes quality of life and well-being in persons age 60 and older.  It involves classes of 10-15 people meeting 90 minutes a week for eight weeks and maintaining a diary.  The program is designed to help people manage their daily lives in more positive ways by learning techniques to process and understand the internal thoughts and barriers that influence daily decisions. 



Kenosha County, along with other Wisconsin counties, identified depression as a common health issue among the older adults in their communities.  Along with this need, there was no community health intervention being done that could address this need.  At the same time, University of Madison researchers (who studied well-being and wanted to make a positive impact on our communities) knew of an intervention originally developed in Italy that addressed depression among adolescents. CAARN then matched UW Madison and Kenosha County and facilitated the partnership and idea formulation of adapting the Italy intervention to older adults here in WI.



Lighten Up was developed through the partnership with UW-Madison and Kenosha County ADRC, along with assistance from Chiara Ruini (Italy).  Lighten Up sessions are highly participatory.  Each builds off of the one before, creating a multi-layered process through which participants practice and understand the material presented.


Subjects covered in the workshop include:


  • Triggers for positive experiences
  • The importance of extraordinary moments
  • Positive Life Review
  • Interruptions and endings
  • Cognitive restructuring
  • Dimensions of well-being (aging in a positive way)

Research process:

Stage 1: Development and pilot testing of intervention. 
Funded by: UW-Madison Institute for Clinical and Translational Research. 
Community Partner: Aging & Disability Resource Center of Kenosha County 


Stage 2: Gather additional data and develop and implement leader manuals and a leader training mechanism. 
Funded by: Wisconsin Partnership Program
Community Partners: Aging & Disability Resource Center of Kenosha County, Aging & Disability Resource Center of Brown County, Rock County Council on Aging


Stage 3: Randomized-Control Trial through federal funding sources.  Additional community partners will be involved. 


Stage 4: Ready for statewide (and future nationwide) dissemination through the Wisconsin Institute for Healthy Aging.


Current status:  Stage 2



Shannon Myers
Community Research Specialist
Wisconsin Institute for Healthy Aging
(608) 852-0813