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Staying Ahead of the Winter Blues

Wintertime can be one of the toughest parts of the year for many people, especially elders and people at retirement age. The shorter days, the colder weather, the change in seasons from warm and sunny to cold and rainy (or snowy!) can do a number on our moods and overall day-to-day happiness. The official name for the “Winter Blues” is Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. That’s not a joke name.

Being depressed from the changes in the seasons and the more limited chances for socializing with colder weather can have a long-term effect on our overall health as well. For Elders, who may already be limited in the activities that they can do, worse and colder weather can make something that is already difficult for them near-impossible. It’s important to find ways to stay happy, optimistic, and upbeat during the winter months, even though all we may want to do is hide under a blanket and wait until spring.

· Get some Sun!

When we say, “get some sun,” we don’t mean go outside and go tanning in the snow. But being outside and getting exposure to sunlight can make a huge difference in overall mood and in overall health. Studies have shown that sunlight provides crucial Vitamin D for our bodies and internal system, and besides the physical benefits, seeing the sun on a walk or even just a few minutes in the yard can be invigorating.

· Have things to look forward too!

Although our summer hobbies like golf, beach days, laying by the pool, and outside barbeques may be impossible in the winter and colder weather, there are still plenty of things to do to get out of the house and feel active. Walking outside to look at Christmas lights, eating a meal at a nice, warm restaurant, or even just having a warm cup of coffee in the brisk morning sun can make the day seem more active and fulfilling. On the schedule, we all have the December Holidays to look forward to (Christmas, Hannukah, New Year’s), but there are other events we can look forward too as well. Valentines Day! A movie night. A nice night out at a fancy hotel. Filling the winter with fun and different things to do is a big part of keeping our spirits (and our health!) up.

· Start a Project

Although in our older years we may hesitate to take on a big project that we would blindly charge into when we were younger (installing a pool by yourself anyone?), we can still have things to look forward too and create, even if our physical ability isn’t quite what it used to be. Quilting or knitting, which takes attention to detail and good hand-eye coordination, can be a great hobby. As can board games, especially ones that stretch your mind and brainpower. Some people even take up making models of airplanes or cars (or trains if you’re really hardcore). All of these hobbies have an important commonality: they keep us and our elder relatives busy! The process of improving at a craft and creating something can keep our minds and bodies sharp, and most importantly keep up our moods as well.

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Senior Steps is a full-service geriatric care management company offering top-quality, personalized care to elderly clients on Boston’s South Shore. We offer free consultations, so call us today at 617-405-8796 or e-mail us at if you would like to chat about how we can help you or an elderly loved one with medical, financial, or legal advocacy, or activities of daily living.

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