What are the ‘winter blues’ and how does it affect older adults?

Learn how to manage the 'winter blues' with practical tips based on our experience caring for clients at Home Instead Folkestone. From staying active to enjoying natural light

Autumn leaves are falling, and the days are growing shorter. It’s that time of year again when the clocks go back, and many of us begin to feel a noticeable shift in our mood. This phenomenon, commonly known as the ‘winter blues’ or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), can be particularly challenging for older adults. At Home Instead in Folkestone, our Care Professionals often see firsthand how this seasonal shift impacts our clients. In this blog, let’s delve into understanding what the ‘winter blues’ are and how they affect older adults.

What are the 'Winter Blues' or Seasonal Affective Disorder?

The ‘winter blues’ isn’t just an informal term; it’s often used to describe a milder form of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD is a type of depression that occurs at a specific time of year, usually in the winter months when there’s less natural sunlight. The symptoms can range from feeling a bit down to more severe forms of depression. You might find it harder to get out of bed, or you could lose interest in activities you usually enjoy. In Britain, it’s estimated that about 1 in 3 people suffer from mild symptoms related to SAD each year, with older adults being notably affected.

How It Affects Older Adults?

As we age, our bodies find it more difficult to absorb Vitamin D from sunlight, making older adults more susceptible to the effects of SAD. Additionally, reduced mobility and increased isolation can exacerbate the symptoms. During our companionship visits, our Care Professionals frequently notice signs of the ‘winter blues’ in our clients. These can include a lack of enthusiasm for hobbies, changes in appetite, or a general sense of lethargy.

By understanding the ‘winter blues’ and its symptoms, we’re better prepared to support our loved ones as the season changes. In the following sections, we’ll discuss tips and strategies for managing these winter challenges.

Practical Tips for Managing Winter Blues

Let’s not beat around the bush—winter can be a tough time for many, but there are proactive steps we can take to manage the symptoms of the ‘winter blues’. From our experience in providing care to the good folk of Folkestone, here are some tried-and-true methods:

  1. Stay Active: It’s all too easy to hibernate during the colder months, but a bit of physical exercise can go a long way in elevating mood. Our Care Professionals often encourage light indoor exercises or short walks for our clients, weather permitting!
  2. Eat Well: A balanced diet rich in essential nutrients can help combat feelings of lethargy. Fish rich in Omega-3s, fresh fruits, and veg are all excellent choices. Many of our clients enjoy having a ‘Sunday roast’ as a treat, which not only is nutritious but also brings a sense of comfort and routine.
  3. Connect: Social isolation can worsen the symptoms of SAD. Therefore, regular visits from family, friends, or Care Professionals can be uplifting. A natter over a cuppa can make all the difference in the world.

Embrace Natural Light and Fresh Air

You don’t have to break the bank to get some light therapy. Simply opening the curtains during daylight hours can boost one’s mood. Our Care Professionals in Folkestone make it a point to encourage clients to spend some time near the window during their visits. When the weather is agreeable, a breath of fresh air in the garden can be invigorating.

While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, these tips based on our hands-on experience in caring for clients can offer some relief. If symptoms persist, consulting a healthcare professional is always advised. And remember, at Home Instead in Folkestone, we’re here to provide that much-needed support through the gloomier months. So don’t hesitate to reach out if you or your loved ones could benefit from our care services.

For more information, click here to learn about how Home Instead Folkestone can support you and your family through the winter months.

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