Winter blues is a real phenomenon that strikes people of all ages; it can cause depression and lack of energy and interest that lasts all winter long. This problem is especially difficult for seniors since they are often homebound much of the time during bad weather and the cold winter months. Family members may not even realize that their senior loved one is suffering from the winter blues if they do not see them regularly. However, it can become quite serious and even dangerous for the elderly if they do not care for themselves. Here is a list of tips to help seniors beat the winter blues.
Keep the Mind Active
Although seniors may not be as physically active in the winter as during the rest of the year due to weather conditions, they can keep their minds active by participating in mental exercises. Family members can purchase games such as crossword puzzles or Sudoku that seniors enjoy. They can buy jigsaw puzzles or other hobby items that entertain seniors and make them think or analyse. Seniors can also spend time on the internet, emailing friends or chatting online. However, too much time on the internet or watching TV can make seniors feel more isolated, so it should be balanced.
This is a good time of the year to learn a new skill or try a new interest. Seniors will have something new to look forward to and share with others; it can make the winter seem like it is going by faster when they have something exciting to work on each day. A person is never too old to learn to play an instrument or a new craft; the internet provides numerous sites with step-by-step directions.
Get Regular Exercise
Even if the seniors cannot get outside, they can find ways to be active in their homes. They can use an exercise DVD or stream a video from the internet. On days when it is warmer, they can go for a walk with a homecare services caregiver. A stationary bike also provides opportunity for exercise in the home.
Foods with too much sugar or caffeine can make seniors feel jittery or alter their moods. Many of these foods will provide a fast rush of energy and then a quick drop, leaving them feeling worse than before. Foods such as pasta and other carbohydrates often leave a person feeling tired and sluggish, which adds to the winter blues.
Even if the senior cannot get out of their house for days at a time, they can still interact with others. They can chat online; send messages on Facebook, or Skype with long-distance family. Seniors that are less internet savvy, can call their family and friends on the phone. If the senior does not have unlimited long distance plan, family members can provide a long distance phone card so that they can afford to talk whenever they want.
How Caregivers Can Help
Family and professional caregivers should be aware of any symptoms that indicate the senior is suffering from the winter blues. This includes fatigue, sadness, lack of interest, and mood changes. So, how can caregivers help? They can go for a walk with seniors who do not feel safe going out on their own. They can also check in daily with a quick phone call. Talking about current events can encourage the senior’s interest. They can also invite them out to lunch or to go places where they will see other people.
Another option is a bright light used for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This light mimics the sunlight and has been proven to improve the moods of those who suffer from winter blues. It is used for 20 or 30 minutes a day. Family members who are concerned about their senior loved ones can talk with a doctor to determine if bright light therapy would help.
If the situation becomes serious, family members can encourage their senior loved one to seek help with a therapist or health care provider. For those who have been independent and able to do things on their own, now might be a good time to utilize homecare services to have an outside caregiver come in and provide assistance and interaction with the senior.