As the weather starts to get warmer and we start to see blue sunny skies, we start to realize (if we haven’t already) how tired of the cold weather we are and how we may have become a little stir crazy! People in northern areas tend to become less tolerant of winter conditions as they age. Medications may make them more susceptible to cold temperatures, and health problems or disabilities can make managing harsh weather dangerous and difficult. Due to these difficulties, hazards, and worries, elders are more likely to spend more time at home in the colder months.
For both older adults and caregivers who love and support them, cabin fever and seasonal depression are frequent during the colder months. Fortunately, there are little modifications, especially as the weather gets nicer, you can do to help yourself or a loved one cope better with feelings of seclusion.
Increased time outdoors can boost your cognitive function, improve your mood, alleviate stress, and boost feelings of well-being. If conditions are too unsafe to take a walk, plan on setting some time aside to take a few deep breaths in the fresh air. On days that may be cold but clear, even just a walk to the mailbox can helpful!
2. Create a Routine
Did you know that a lack of an established routine can cause disruptions in eating, sleeping, and activity? Create a daily routine that includes work or house tasks, meals, exercise, and even relaxation to maintain a sense of structure. An outline for your day will help you keep track of your hours and offer you tiny “goals” to achieve throughout the day.
3. Express Your Creative Side
Whether it’s painting and scrap-booking or completing a puzzle, enjoy your time alone to reconnect with artistic pursuits you may have put on hold due to life’s demands. Spending time on creative endeavors keeps your mind occupied. Maintaining your mind’s sharpness might help you avoid feelings of boredom or restlessness, while also accelerating the passage of time.
4. Maintain a Social Life
Chat with your friends and loved ones using real-time video streaming services like FaceTime, Zoom, or Skype. Face-to-face communication may keep you connected to the “outside world” and make even a small space feel much larger. Engaging with others who are going through the same thing can help you feel less alone. If you are unable to utilize the services mentioned above, try making in person plans to see a movie, reach out to loved ones over the phone, or have a friend come over for dinner.
5. Carve Out Some ‘Me Time’
Having every minute of your day planned out is not a necessity. Take a breath and look for ways to unwind that are both beneficial and constructive. Mindfulness, deep breathing, and relaxation activities can help you maintain emotional balance and manage feelings of loneliness and stress. At Notre Dame Health Care, we are grateful for our Activities Directors and staff who provide meaningful activities that encourage social connections. Especially in the winter months when it is typically too cold to enjoy outdoor activities, our activities teams offer creative ways to engage and be social. Fun activities like indoor “snowball fights,” Olympic themed events, chair exercises, Scrabble and of course social/cocktail hours to help everyone beat the “winter blues.” To learn more about our daily activities, please visit https://www.notredamehealthcare.org/for-residents-families/activity-calendars/.