Winter is usually a calm time of year. For many, it’s a time to relax and recover from the busy holiday season. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for everyone. Many older adults feel sluggish, unmotivated, and down during the colder months. These emotions can prevent seniors from participating in health-sustaining activities.
Seniors and the Winter Blues
The winter blues, also referred to as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), is a type of depression that cycles with the seasons. Although SAD can occur any time of year, it usually affects people during the winter months. Shorter days, reduced sunlight, and fewer outings can worsen depression.
The effects of SAD are often greater among seniors, especially those who live in colder climates. Freezing temperatures, snow, and heavy rain can make it difficult for older adults to leave the house or spend time with loved ones. Fortunately, there are steps seniors can take to help alleviate the winter blues.
How Seniors Can Beat Winter Depression
Daylight exposure:Sunlight is one of the most effective remedies for winter depression. It has been shown to improve the body’s circadian rhythm and boost serotonin levels. Many seniors can benefit from spending just a few hours a day outside. Those who can’t make it out can open the blinds in their home and sit near a window.
Light therapy:Light therapy, also referred to as phototherapy, is a common treatment for SAD. During light therapy, seniors sit by a light box when they wake up. The light box mimics natural light, stimulating the part of the brain that controls circadian rhythm. By sitting near the light, the body knows it’s daytime, and it stops producing melatonin.
Alcohol abstinence:It’s common to use alcohol to cope with depression. However, alcohol can worsen depression in the long run. It can also negatively affect medications, brain functioning, and sleep. When the winter blues hit, it’s better to deal with sadness through healthier methods like exercise or socializing with loved ones.
Exercise:Exercise can be a useful tool for managing symptoms of SAD. Research shows it can be just as effective as many antidepressants. Exercise reduces stress hormones and increases feel-good hormones like endorphins and serotonin. By working out daily, seniors can heighten their mood, increase their energy levels, and reduce their risk of falling.
Respite care:Respite care can be an excellent option for seniors struggling with the winter blues. Older adults who have mobility challenges or are afraid to leave home during dangerous weather can benefit significantly from respite care. Not only does it provide a safe place to stay during the winter months, but it also provides social opportunities.
Beating the Winter Blues with Respite Care
If you are struggling with the winter blues, remember that you are not alone. Many seniors struggle with depression during this time of year. If you would like to learn more about respite care, please feel free to contact us at 800-304-8061. Our senior care advisors can help you navigate and understand the maze of senior care options in your area. As always, our services are free.
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