How Seniors Can Stay Mentally Healthy During Winter
The winter months are a hard time for many people. With freezing temperatures, overcast skies, and lack of sun can lead to a decline in mental health. Older adults and seniors experience mental health a little differently. 20 percent of adults 55 and older experience some form of mental health issues. The more common form of mental health issues in seniors are cognitive impairment and dementia. But, the common mental health issues that a majority of people face from depression, anxiety, and mood disorders to anxiety tend to go undiagnosed in the elderly. Anxiety can morph itself into things like hoarding disorders, phobias, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
A big reason seniors are vulnerable to declining mental health is due to social isolation and sadness, as well as a decline in cognitive function. The good news is that there are several activities and resources seniors can take advantage of, so they don’t have to fall victim to their mental health. We’ll be giving you a variety of ways to help improve mental health in seniors.
While it’s important to maintain the body and keep it engaged and stimulated, it’s equally important to do the same with your brain! As we age, the brain needs a healthy amount of activity to keep it sharp and stimulated to avoid cognitive decline. So what kind of brain-boosting activities can you or a loved one do?
- Reading & Writing: The brain is a muscle if you don’t give it a workout its functions will decline. Reading books, magazines, newspapers, and online articles are great ways to give your brain a boost! Also, writing a journal can help you manage the effects of anxiety.
- Word puzzles challenge the brain, help improve concentration and increase vocabulary. Above all else, they help with memory and can improve mental functions in patients with brain damage or early dementia.
Growing old can become isolating, your children may be grown and have families of their own, friends and significant others may start to pass away, leaving you alone. Staying connected with your peers and friends will help to stave off loneliness and feelings of isolation. Additionally, finding activities/hobbies that make you happy will keep not just your brain active and healthy but also your body. If movement is hard you, and getting out the door and socializing with friends isn’t easy/accessible, have a friend teach you how to use Skype, Facetime and social media to connect with old friends and stay-in-touch with family.
Physical activity is good for the brain, body, and soul. From walks around town to daily stretch routines, to group physical activity. Daily physical activity helps to boost confidence, balance and is a great way to fight off the winter blues, reduce anxiety, and manage stress. By going on walks with a friend, family member or caretaker you’re staying fit and social. If your mobility is limited, there are plenty of low-impact workouts you can do from a chair that’ll reduce joint pain, chronic illness, and strengthens the muscles.
After retirement older adults and seniors might find themselves with too much time on their hands, a lack of fulfillment or looking for a sense of purpose. Volunteering gives older adults and seniors an outlet for using their skills, also a great way to stay involved in their community. Luckily, many organizations in everyone’s town are looking for volunteers of all ages and abilities. Whether you enjoy reading to kids, helping with a community garden, feeding the unhoused, or volunteering at the hospital, you’re remaining active, socially engaged, and gain a sense of belonging.
With winter blues to seasonal depression, fighting anxiety and depression is not always an easy battle, but the tactics mentioned above are great ways to boost your energy, self-worth, mood and curve the symptoms of depression. If you or a loved one is starting to notice signs of declining cognitive function and want to start planning for the future, reach out to an Oasis Senior Advisor. Our services are completely free, we offer resources for seniors and their families, as well as support and guidance every step of the way so that you can feel confident in your loved ones’ future.