January is one of the gloomiest months of the year. All the holiday excitement has passed, and the decorations are put in storage. The grey skies, cold, and occasional snow settle in. Perpetual lack of sunshine and more hours of darkness can lead to depression, mood swings, low energy, loss of interest in activities, and a shortened attention span. This can be a difficult time for anyone, especially seniors who may be house bound or less mobile in the winter.
Fortunately, there are ways to tackle the winter blues and improve physical and mental health during the winter.
Catch some rays
Exposure to sunlight is important for your body to produce vitamin D, which is an essential nutrient that helps to fight inflammation and protect us from cancer. Research has found that exposure to the sun in appropriate amounts – 10 to 15 minutes per day between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. – offers numerous health benefits. These include enhancing your mood and boosting energy levels through the release of endorphins. No matter how much sun exposure you get in the winter, it is also a good idea to take a vitamin D supplement.
Maintain a healthy diet
The lower temperatures and dark nights of winter can force you into a hibernation-like state. This increases cravings for foods with lots of sugar and carbs, which are usually not the healthiest choices. Even in the winter, it’s important to fuel your body with healthy fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins like chicken and fish. Elderly people in particular are susceptible to negative health effects from poor eating habits.
Exercise your body
Keeping active will dramatically increase your overall health, mental sharpness, and decrease your vulnerability to illness, which is especially important for seniors. Walking can be an excellent form of exercise for the elderly. When the weather is too inclement to venture outside, many shopping malls have scheduled walking times in the early morning hours, which means you can always have a daily walk.
Exercise your mind
Exercising your brain is equally as essential as physical activity. Mental exercise plays a critical role in strengthening your brain. Research has shown that in order to keep your brain healthy, it’s vital to introduce new, adaptive experiences. Some examples of ways to exercise your brain include reading, playing cards and board games, completing puzzles and brainteasers, or taking up a new hobby. All of these activities can help keep your mental acuity sharp.
For the elderly, maintaining an active social calendar and networking with friends is of vital importance and a great way to help the winter season feel like it’s passing quickly. Seniors should continue to do the things you enjoy. Social engagement is a recognized health booster for all seasons, but it can be especially beneficial in the dark days of winter.
Helping you through the process
If your parent or loved one needs more help than you can provide, contact Oasis Senior Advisors for assistance. We offer resources for seniors and their families, as well as support and guidance every step of the way, so you can feel confident in your senior housing selection.