Senior Living Health Tips: Seven Ways for Seniors to Beat the Winter Blues
With the excitement of the holidays well behind us and spring a long way ahead, the dark, cold days of winter can get many people feeling a little down.
This time of year can be especially challenging for seniors, whose mobility may be more limited by the winter weather, and for whom cold temperatures can cause flare-ups of health conditions like arthritis. Even for those who don’t experience the extremes of Seasonal Affective Disorder, this time of year can bring feelings of restlessness, sadness, and fatigue.
Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to help your senior loved ones (and yourself!) go from winter blues to blue skies ahead.
From Winter Blues to Blue Skies Ahead: Tips for Boosting Mood
- Get Outside.
- Get Moving.
- Get Some Sun, Even Indoors.
- Get A Jump On Spring Cleaning.
- Get A Taste Of Summer.
- Get A Good Night’s Sleep.
- Get Together!
Here by the Jersey Shore, we are fortunate to have occasional mild days during the winter. Help your senior loved one make the most of these opportunities! Getting outside helps with restlessness and “closed in” feelings during the long winter.
When the weather isn’t too cold, take time to bundle up, get outside, and get some fresh air, even just to run a quick errand together. If your loved one is particularly challenged by cold weather, consider inviting them for a scenic drive in a warm car on a sunny day.
Exercise is important for seniors, especially during the winter. When it’s too cold for a walk outside, look for indoor walking opportunities and fitness classes. Even light exercise is proven to help boost mood and energy and improve sleep. Plus, gentle exercise can help alleviate stiffness and arthritis flare-ups that are common during cold weather.
For seniors who struggle with less daylight, a light box can be helpful. These lamps simulate sunlight without generating extra heat or damaging rays. Each person’s needs are different, so be sure to speak with your loved one’s physician first.
Get an early taste of spring with some spring cleaning. This is the perfect time of year to help your senior loved one clear the “extras” from the holidays. A little time spent finding a place for sentimental holiday items and discarding the extras can go a long way toward creating a more peaceful and uplifting atmosphere.
If you’re doing some tidying of your own, offer to help sort your loved one’s clothing for pieces that are stained, worn, or have been replaced by holiday gifts, and discard or donate these along with your own items.
Sweets and treats may seem like a good comfort during the long, cold days of winter, but sugary foods can actually make moods more erratic and sleep more difficult. Opt for sun-filled foods that naturally boost and maintain energy, like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Oranges and grapefruits are in season and make a great snack or addition to any meal, plus the vitamin C is a natural immune booster during cold and flu season.
Many people naturally sleep more during the darkest days of the year. But, for many others, the lack of sunlight causes insomnia. Sleep quantity and quality is linked to vitamin D, which is produced by the body in response to sunlight. Vitamin D levels tend to be lowest during the winter months for everyone. Vitamin D synthesis also decreases with age, making seniors particularly vulnerable to the sleep disturbances (and other health concerns) that result from low levels of vitamin D.
Other factors can cause insomnia as well, such as sinus symptoms due to the dry air, and increased intake of sugar and hot caffeinated beverages like coffee and tea.
Help your senior loved one keep a regular routine and moderate sugar and caffeine, especially in the second half of the day. Add foods high in vitamin D, which include fatty fish, mushrooms, and fortified items such as orange juice, milk, and cereal.
Few things boost mood like time with people you love. Give you senior loved one the gift of your time and attention to brighten up the cold winter days.
Getting the Help You Need
Learn more about Sunnyside Manor’s resources for caregivers. Whether you’re looking for short-term support or a longer-term plan, we are here to help. Begin with our “Getting Started” guide, or call us at 888-696-2052 to speak with a senior living expert.
The all new Sunnyside Manor, located in Wall NJ, is the area’s premier senior living community. It features three distinctive neighborhoods: Independence ‘Plus’ Assisted Living, Recollections Memory Care and Skilled Nursing.