Janet, my 82-year-old client, seemed especially quiet and subdued during our weekly visit. I had been Janet’s care manager for the past several months, and something didn’t seem right.
“How are you feeling, Janet?”
“I don’t know what it is,” she sighed. “The days seem so cold and dreary lately and I haven’t heard back from my sons whether they’re coming here for the holidays. I’m not sure I’m up for visitors even if they do want to come. And I don’t know what gifts to buy.”
This was really unlike Janet; she loved having her family over. We talked some more and Janet said she hadn’t been out much lately and hadn’t spoken to her friends either. In short, she’d been lonely but at the same time, fretted about having visitors.
“I almost canceled my appointment with you today also,” she admitted. “But I couldn’t think of a good excuse so I didn’t. I guess I’m glad you’re here though.”
It isn’t unusual for shorter days, colder weather, and the stress/expectations of the holidays to take an emotional toll. Everyone has days during the winter when they feel tired and unmotivated, and in Janet’s case, isolating herself made those feelings worse.
“Why don’t we take a walk outdoors?” I suggested. “The sunshine will do you good. It’s cold but not that cold. You’ll be fine wearing a winter jacket and a hat.”
And in fact, taking a short walk outdoors soon lifted Janet’s bleak mood. Getting fresh air and as much sunlight as possible, exercise, and healthy eating are important to manage the winter blues or for some people, a more serious condition called seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a form of depression that typically starts in the late fall or early winter and goes away during spring and summer. Seasonal depression recurs every year around the same time and can seriously impact a person’s physical and emotional health and day-to-day functioning. It can be treated with medication, light therapy, and counseling. Vitamin D supplements may also be helpful.
Janet decided to break the cycle and give her friends, and her sons, a call to firm up the holiday plans. It was a start to getting over the winter blues. If you’re feeling extra down lately, try getting outdoors. Call a friend, listen to music, or work on a hobby. And if you still feel down and nothing seems to help, let your care manager or healthcare professional know how you’re feeling. There are effective treatments for seasonal depression, no matter your age.
If you or someone in your family are facing aging challenges, please give us a call at 561-291-3699 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll be happy to assist!