Ways Seniors Can Avoid Seasonal Depression
As a leading senior services organization in Marin County, we frequently observe our members and clients grappling with the onset of winter and holiday blues as daylight diminishes and temperatures drop. Our dedicated staff are acutely aware of the need for heightened attention and thoughtful care during the forthcoming chilly and bustling months, especially when it comes to supporting older adults who may be navigating complex emotional challenges.
Anne Grey, CEO of Vivalon, underscores the significance of this issue, stating, “The reduced exposure to natural light and extended periods spent indoors can give rise to feelings of depression and anxiety, a challenge that transcends age boundaries. For seniors, the holiday season can exacerbate these emotions, whether they are coping with the loss of loved ones or reminiscing about their youthful days. Additionally, for seniors contending with conditions like dementia and chronic illnesses, the abrupt shifts in routine, bright lights, and large gatherings can prove overwhelming.”
Drawing upon our extensive 70 years of experience supporting seniors in senior care, Vivalon offers the following recommendations to empower older adults in combating the winter blues:
Embrace the Outdoors for a Revitalizing Change of Scenery:
Even a brief exposure to the crisp winter air and invigorating sunlight can work wonders. For those unable to venture outside, simply drawing back the curtains and inviting natural light into their living space can provide a similar benefit.
Nurture Social Connections with Friends:
Engaging in social activities with cherished friends who bring laughter and companionship can serve as a soothing balm for the soul. Whether it’s planning lunch outings, embarking on shopping excursions, enjoying a movie together, or simply relishing each other’s company, maintaining these connections is invaluable.
A phone or Facetime call can also be effective.
Plan Modest Yet Meaningful Activities and Outings:
The anticipation of enjoyable activities can inject excitement into daily life. These activities need not be extravagant; regular gatherings, attending grandchildren’s events, or scheduling a relaxing beauty appointment are all activities that provide something to look forward to, making the days pass more swiftly.
Prioritize Physical Activity for a Mood Boost:
Regular physical activity releases endorphins, the body’s natural mood enhancers. Encouraging seniors to participate in activities such as short walks, indoor swimming, yoga, or gentle gym sessions can significantly enhance their overall well-being. Many physical activities can be accessed online or with a smart TV, and Vivalon offers some classes via Zoom.
Set Short-Term Goals for a Sense of Achievement:
Having clear objectives, even if they are modest in scope, can foster a sense of accomplishment and motivation. Seniors can establish goals related to hobbies, home projects, or personal development, deriving satisfaction from their progress and the ability to check items off their to-do list.
Advice for friends and adult children is to remain vigilant and empathetic to the emotional needs of older adults throughout the winter season. Watch for signs of depression or anxiety and foster open communication about these feelings. For those experiencing severe emotional distress, we encourage seeking professional support, such as counseling or therapy, which can prove to be immensely beneficial.
Creating a warm and festive atmosphere at home, participating in cherished holiday traditions, and involving seniors in seasonal activities are additional steps we take to alleviate the winter and holiday doldrums. Ultimately, providing unwavering companionship, steadfast support, and heartfelt encouragement is our commitment to enhancing the well-being of older adults during this season and beyond.
Kristie McCall – Chief Development and Marketing Officer