If you or someone you know has ever struggled with seasonal affective disorder (SAD), or the “winter blues,” then you know how debilitating it can be. This is especially true for seniors who are already at risk for depression or mood disorders related to medications, dementia, or other medical conditions. Fortunately, there are some simple steps older adults can take to prevent and combat seasonal sadness during the winter months.
What is seasonal affective disorder?
Seasonal affective disorder is a type of mood disorder that is triggered by a change in seasons. It most commonly occurs during the winter months when the temperatures drop, the days get shorter, and people spend less time outdoors. Symptoms include depression, fatigue, and social withdrawal, which can start in the fall and last until the start of spring. This type of seasonal sadness can make it hard for older adults to maintain an active, happy mindset.
The good news is that there are ways to lessen the effects of winter sadness. We’ve listed some helpful tips below.
Seek more sunlight.
If possible, try to get outside when you can. Natural sunlight provides the body with Vitamin D, which is essential for boosting the immune system and regulating mood. If it’s too cold outside, keep your curtains open on sunny days and spend time near your windows.
Stay physically active.
Exercise is a natural mood enhancer and one of the best ways to beat the winter blues. Low-impact activities, such as walking or stretching, are great ways to alleviate SAD symptoms and boost your mood. At The Oaks at Bartlett, our activity calendar is filled with many options to help residents stay active in the winter season, including group fitness, swimming, and more.
Connect with others.
Studies show that strong social connections can help improve seniors’ moods and ward off isolation and depression. This winter, make it a goal to prioritize social activities by participating in clubs, exercise classes, or volunteering. Regularly make time in your calendar to connect with friends or relatives. And if they don’t life nearby—give them a call or set up a video chat. Here at The Oaks, we pride ourselves on our close-knit community. With daily activities, crafts, games, and more, our residents can easily form new friendships and create lasting memories with people in their same season of life.
Focus on good nutrition.
Eating a balanced diet is essential for older adults and is a good, natural way to boost your mood and energy levels. Choose nutrient-dense foods, like fruits, vegetables, lean protein, whole grains, and healthy fats over sugary or fried foods. However, you don’t have to skip your favorite holiday snacks and treats entirely! Just remember to eat them in moderation.
At The Oaks at Bartlett, we know that proper nutrition is a key ingredient to active aging. That’s why our dining experience is specifically designed to promote healthy living. Our on-site chefs take pride in creating dishes that are deliciously healthy and honor our residents’ special dietary requests.
Personalized options include:
- Diabetes-friendly meals
- Gluten-free dishes
- Low-sodium meals
- Vegetarian menu options
Pick up a new hobby.
The long, dark winter season can lead to boredom and feelings of isolation. To keep yourself busy, consider taking up a new hobby or skill that you can do indoors, such as reading, painting, cooking, or learning to play an instrument. By keeping your mind engaged, you can help reduce symptoms of seasonal sadness while adding enjoyment to your daily life.
Navigating Winter Blues at The Oaks at Bartlett
Finally, for seniors who have attempted to reduce their symptoms and are still struggling to feel joy in the winter months, always reach out to a loved one or your physician.
At The Oaks, we are dedicated to the well-being of our residents. We understand the impact that the winter months can have on seniors’ health, and we’re here to help. Our community offers an enriching lifestyle so that residents can enjoy the highest quality of life, no matter the time of year. To learn more, contact us today to schedule your personal tour of our vibrant senior living community.