Even though millions of people experience winter-related sadness, lack of energy and detachment from daily activities, many of us believe that the cold days’ blues is just a myth. However, there is sound scientific evidence to support the fact that the change of seasons may be affecting our moods. Scientists believe that the problem is related to the way the body responds to daylight.
The winter depression, also know by the accronim SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) is somehow related to shorter winter days and less exposure to daylight. It can be debilitating and daylight savings time does not help, since darker mornings—in the fall or spring—are particularly difficult for those with SAD.
Because it can be difficult and dangerous to get around, many seniors may be more exposed to the winter blues, as they stay indoors for days. They also have less contact with others during cold months which can enhance feelings of loneliness and isolation.
To help avoid these issues, family members should check in on seniors as often as possible; even a short, daily phone call can make a big difference. Seniors can also arrange a check-in system with neighbors and friends, where each person looks in on one or two others daily.
Another tip is to get more light into their lives. If they feel low in winter, their caregiver should take them outside as often as possible, especially on bright days. Sitting by a sunny window can also help.
Exercise is one of the best remedies for depression. If the exercise is made outdoors, it doubles up the benefit.
A visit to a nice Adult Daycare facility, a community center or engaging in activities in the local Senior Center go a long way in helping with socialization and making the long dark winter days pass faster. Most of these facilities in our area also offer exercise programs specifically targeted to their age.
Finally, it is important to eat well during the winter. Winter depression can make you crave pasta, bread, sugary foods and carbohydrates such as chocolate. It is important to include plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables in the diet. Hot drinks during the day can have a benefic, soothing effect, while keeping your loved one hydrated.
If you can’t be around much to offer companionship and help them to move around, to visit friends or go outside, do consider hiring an agency to send a companion for a few hours some or all days of the week. That can make all the difference in their lives.