Winter can be a tough time of year for family caregivers who live in colder climates. Once the hustle and bustle of the holidays is over, the cold, snowy days can seem never-ending. Many older adults avoid leaving home on winter days for fear of falling. That often means their family caregiver is stuck at home, too.
It’s a combination that can cause cabin fever for both the senior and their caregiver. In fact, research shows that as many as 15% of people have a difficult time during the winter months. Some even develop a condition known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). This health condition is linked to a change in seasons or a lack of exposure to sunlight.
If you are a caregiver struggling with cabin fever and the winter blues, we have a few tips that may help you beat them.
6 Ways Caregivers Can Beat the Winter Blues
- Limit carbs: When you are feeling blue, comfort foods can taste great. Unfortunately, they are usually loaded with carbs. That means you will likely end up feeling tired and sluggish, which further exacerbates the problem. Instead of carb-laden foods, opt for meals that are rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, fish, and lean protein. You will feel more energetic and positive.
- Limit alcohol: Alcohol is a depressant that may aggravate a case of cabin fever. It can also contribute to dehydration. When you are consuming too many alcoholic beverages, you likely are drinking too few beneficial ones. If you limit alcohol consumption and opt instead for water, hot tea, or juice, you’ll stay hydrated and feel better.
- Spend time outdoors: When the cold winds of winter blow, it can be tempting to hibernate until spring. While that’s understandable, it isn’t great for your mental or physical well-being. Weather permitting, bundle up and pull on a pair of skid-proof boots. Heading outdoors to soak up nature can give your spirit the boost it needs.
- Get quality sleep: Both the blues and SAD can cause sleep problems. Some people don’t get enough sleep, while others may sleep too much. Try to get your senior family member on a consistent sleep schedule that includes 7–8 hours of quality sleep each night. That will make it easier for you to do the same. If insomnia or other sleep disturbances persist for either of you, talk with a primary care physician. They may make a referral to a sleep clinic for further evaluation.
- Stay connected: While you may be stuck indoors more, you don’t have to lose touch with friends and family during the winter. In fact, staying connected helps prevent loneliness and cabin fever. Use technologies like Skype and FaceTime to keep in contact. Social media platforms can also be useful for staying in touch until spring arrives and it’s safer to venture out for social occasions.
- Utilize respite care: A change of scenery may also help you beat cabin fever. If your budget permits, schedule a trip to a sunny destination for a few days. You can take advantage of respite care services at a local assisted living community for your senior loved one. Your family member will enjoy all the activities and events offered at the community, in addition to nutritious meals and support with personal care.
Talk with a Senior Care Advisor About Respite
If you would like to explore respite care options near your home, let one of our experienced senior care advisors help. Our advice is always free for older adults and their families. Call us at 888-514-6461 to get started today!