How to Help Seniors Weather the Winter Blues
The cold temps and shorter days of winter tend to cause people to spend more time cooped up indoors and be less active. For seniors, winter is an especially risky time for the “winter blues” as they may be less mobile and have smaller social circles.
Here are a few ideas to help you, or a senior you care for, weather the winter in good health and good spirits.
Weather permitting, bundle up and go for a walk. If winds or ice pose a danger, look indoors for a place to walk, like the mall or a community center with a walking track. Or, search the internet for low-impact or senior exercise videos that you can watch online.
Get more light
Getting outside offers fresh air and the benefit of natural light, which has been shown to improve mood and ward off seasonal depression. If the skies are gray more often than not, consider buying a light therapy lamp, which mimics the light of the sun.
Maintain connections with family and friends. Make plans to meet for coffee, or dinner, and ask for a ride if you need one. Or, consider using a program like Skype or Facetime to hold a video conversation online with faraway friends or when you just can’t get out of the house.
Giving back to your community helps others while providing personal satisfaction, the chance to learn new things, and the opportunity to meet other people who care about the same things you do.
What you eat has a big impact on your mood. Avoid processed and sugar-filled foods which can zap energy and cause depression, lack of concentration, and mood swings. Focus on lean proteins, vegetables, complex carbohydrates (whole wheat breads, brown rice), and fruit, and drink at least 8 cups of water per day. These healthy foods will provide your body (and mind) with nutrients, and stabilize your blood sugar and energy levels.
Talk to a professional
If you or your senior loved one feels hopeless, has a significant change in eating patterns, has difficulty concentrating, and is fatigued, irritable or restless, it could indicate more than the winter blues such as clinical depression. Speak to a professional about treatment options.
The winter months can be difficult at any age. But by taking care of yourself and remaining active and engaged, you can weather the winter blues and look forward to a cheerful spring.