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Expert Insights for Seniors Battling the Winter Blues
Elizabeth Bemis

By: Elizabeth Bemis on February 12th, 2020

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Expert Insights for Seniors Battling the Winter Blues

Independent Senior Living  |  senior living nutrition  |  dependent senior living  |  winter activities for seniors

It is all too common for seniors to experience feelings of sadness and loneliness during the cold and dark winter months. If you or an aging loved one are finding it difficult to overcome the winter blues this season, you are certainly not alone. With less daylight, declining temperatures and the dangers associated with getting out during periods of snow and ice, it’s no wonder so many seniors undergo the effects of cabin fever and other mood-depleting factors.

Even so, there are lots of ways to combat the winter blues and mitigate the negative impacts of the colder months on you or the senior in your life. It’s about the type of lifestyle you embrace this time of year to stay active, engaged, healthy and positive. Here are some valuable ways to keep spirits high and make the most of this winter season.


Get Your Body Moving


It’s no surprise that getting exercise and staying active can be particularly difficult in winter, especially for seniors who enjoy going outside for walks and participating in outdoor sports or activities. In the spring, summer and early fall months, this is not an issue. But the winter climate severely limits these capabilities.


That doesn’t mean you or your aging loved one can’t stay active and focus on physical activity this time of year. In fact, preventing illness and mental decline is a major reason to make movement a high priority all winter long.  


To make regular exercise a reality, consider enrolling in weekly or monthly classes that take place inside, like aerobics, yoga, dance and indoor swimming. This type of consistent movement results in immense benefits, from lifting moods to building strength and balance. Many community centers, senior organizations and assisted living facilities offer fitness classes for aging adults. If you’d rather move in your own environment, you can try working out to a fitness DVD or engaging in some chair exercises. Whatever your preferences, make movement a routine part of the day.

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Stay Social and Connected


When you’re cooped up inside, it’s easy for everyday life to become dull and lonely. This is a major risk for seniors, who are especially prone to developing symptoms of depression and cognitive decline. That’s why it’s so important for you or your aging loved one to stay connected to the people in your life and make social engagement an ongoing priority.


What are your interests? Find a way to integrate social events and community activities that appeal to those interests. Are you a crafter? A reader? A foodie? An avid art fan? A music or dance buff? Do you love to volunteer? There is a variety of organized clubs and gatherings for every taste and personality, so make the effort to get involved.


To avoid those common feelings of isolation, it’s essential to stay connected to family and friends as well. Making plans to stay in touch with children, grandchildren and other loved ones is a highly beneficial way to combat the winter blues, boost morale and stay healthy.


Mind Your Nutrition


On a cold winter’s day, it’s tempting to give in to cravings for carb- and sugar-heavy foods, but indulging too often can actually exacerbate feelings of sadness. For many older adults, proper nutrition is also an essential aspect of maintaining independence. If you or your aging loved one manages a chronic condition, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, the choices you make at mealtimes can be critical.


An established diet consisting of canned foods, snacks, and sweets is not nutritious, balanced or conducive to maintaining mental health during a particularly challenging time of year. Even worse, malnutrition can occur when the body doesn’t get enough nutrients to function properly. So be sure to focus on developing a health-conscious meal plan that positively impacts your mental and physical health. You might also consider talking to a physician about the possibility of taking dietary supplements.


Visit a Senior Living Community


As seniors grow older, they are more likely to lose a spouse, a dear friend or even a neighbor whom they relied on for support. This is a particularly challenging reality to address during the winter months, when lack of fresh air, daylight and interaction can fuel feelings of loneliness and sadness.


This is just one of the things that makes life in a senior living community so attractive this time of year. In an assisted living environment, there is a community of neighbors and staff to support you or the senior in your life. From shared meals, regular events and activities, and opportunities to connect, to assistance with daily living activities, medical support at the ready, and a baked-in sense of safety and comfort, there’s no shortage of reasons why this lifestyle can be life-changing.


Especially during the cold months, life in a senior living community is a major benefit. Surrounded by a community of friends and a staff that fosters safety, health, and engagement, there’s much to be gained from the experience. So consider visiting some senior communities in your area, and think about whether this option just might be the best fit.


Begin your search by immersing yourself in resident life at UMH. You can call us directly at (877) 929-5321 or go online to schedule a complimentary visit now.


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About Elizabeth Bemis

In 1998, I drove past an assisted living community construction site, learned that it was part of United Methodist Homes and realized the next stop on my professional journey was to work for a mission driven organization. Soon after, I joined the team as Executive Director of our Middlewoods of Farmington community and later served as Regional Manager for the Middlewoods properties before accepting my current role as Vice President of Marketing, Promotions, and Assisted Living Operations. I enjoy spending time with my family, cooking, reading, walking, and love working alongside our staff, residents, and families to build strong communities that reflect the mission, vision, and values of United Methodist Homes.

Our Blog is a 2016 Platinum Generations Award Winner! The Generations Award is an annual international competition for excellence in senior marketing recognizing professionals who have communicated to the 50+ Mature Markets.