Winter weather can take a toll on everyone, especially older adults. Because it can be difficult and dangerous to get around, many older adults may have less contact with others during cold months. This can add to feelings of loneliness and isolation. To help avoid these issues, there is a few things we can all do!
- Check in with your family members as often as possible (a short phone call can make a big difference to someones day!)
- Make a check-in system with your elderly neighbours and friends where each person looks in on one or two others every few days.
- If someone has had an accident in their home, fallen and injured themselves or been taken ill, they may not be able to attract attention of neighbours, passers-by or people who call at the door. Always be on the look-out for signs that something might be wrong, especially when the weather is cold.
The benefits of getting moving this winter
Spending too much time indoors can take a toll on ones health. Exercise is a sure way to help maintain high spirits throughout the winter months as well as a good reason to get out of the house (even if it is only for a short walk around the block). Getting out in the winter sun will help provide your body with vitamin D. Vitamin D keeps your bones and immune system strong. It can also boost positivity and help prevent high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer. Getting your body moving releases the “feel-good” chemicals serotonin and dopamine, which can help to reduce anxiety and depression while boosting well being. Also movement helps generate body heat which ensures the body keeps warm naturally. Even housework is enough to reap the benefits of exercise – just remember to spread it out over the whole day to make sure you body keeps moving.
Is it just the winter blues or something more serious?
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a category of depression that emerges in particular seasons of the year. Most people notice SAD symptoms starting in autumn and increasing during the winter months, but a few people experience a spring/summer version. Sure, everyone has days in the winter when they feel sluggish or unmotivated. But if your symptoms are causing disruptions in your life, then never hesitate to reach out to a professional.
Some signs to watch for with SAD include: a loss of energy, an increased appetite and an enhanced feeling of lethargy and tiredness. are present or becoming more prevalent, .If you notice symptoms occur for days at a time, you notice major shifts in sleeping or eating, you are withdrawing socially, or the activities that usually boost your mood don’t work, then it’s time to pick up your phone or go and talk to your doctor about treatment options. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing suicidal thoughts.