Seniors Get the Winter Blues | 3 Ways to Help Your Loved One in Assisted Living in Anchorage
The winter is particularly difficult for seniors living in cold climates. From frequent issues with snow closures and disruption of activities due to weather to the social isolation that the season can cause, seniors have fewer outings and fewer visits in the coldest months. Less time outdoors and less light can lead to seasonal depression for people of all ages, but seniors can be particularly susceptible to SAD. The time after the winter holidays is also a time of reflection and may trigger feelings of loss and grief due to lost loved ones as well. Your loved one doesn’t have to suffer this winter; the ideas below will help you both avoid the winter blues.
3 Ways to Relieve the Winter Blues for Seniors
Stay in touch:
The isolation that comes with a lack of visitors and a lack of social interaction can be debilitating for elderly people, and seniors often don’t rebound well after an illness or health setback. If you have an aging relative in care or that lives independently, a simple phone call or mailed card can be a lifeline, particularly in the coldest days of winter. Seniors that are more connected to technology often fare better because they can still stay in touch via email or Facebook. Helping a less than savvy relative get connected can benefit them in more ways than one. If hearing or memory loss is an issue, phone calls won’t be as effective as a card or letter, since these tangible items can be placed in an easily accessible area and revisited often. Personal visits or outings have a big impact on the emotional well being of a homebound senior and taking the time for a visit or simple trip can make a world of difference to an elderly relative.
Seek medical help:
Winter brings shorter, darker days and while some seniors simply don’t enjoy the cold or the solitude that it brings, others can be medically impacted. Seasonal affective disorder or SAD is a major depressive disorder that impacts about 14% of Americans, with concentrations in the cold, northern states and cities. More than just a simple case of the blues, SAD can play a big role in a senior’s wellness; if you have concerns about yourself or a friend or relative it is important to seek medical advice. SAD can be treated with special lights or with medication, but only if diagnosed by a doctor.
Give the right gifts:
Most seniors have very little need for an extra tie or tea cup, particularly if there are memory or health issues. The gifts you choose for the seniors in your life can make the winter doldrums better and improve their quality of life, if you choose wisely. The best gift you can give is your time; take your aged parent to a play or event or even for a cup of coffee at a diner. Spending time together will be more important than anything you can wrap. A visit to the mall in December with a senior loved one is crazy, but that same mall will be empty by the second week of January. A simple shopping outing for those who are able is an ideal way to spend some time together without dealing with the crazy crowds at the mall. If you can’t be there in person and do want to send a gift, ask about hobbies, books and revisit what your elderly relative enjoys and can do now. Seniors in assisted living can enjoy a wide range of interests but may have some limitations. A lifelong knitter might love a new project or be devastated because she can no longer manipulate the needles. Finding out what current interests your senior has will help you purchase something they can truly use and enjoy. Your time, care and attention can make the world of difference to your loved one this winter. If you have siblings or other relatives that can get together and coordinate a schedule of calls, cards and visits, you’ll alleviate the winter blues for someone you love without sacrificing your own quality of life.
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