January is a difficult month for many, especially the older generation. New Year, New You may not be the enthusiastic mantra for elderly parents and relatives who feel that January and February are particularly gloomy times.
However, Annabel James, founder of Age Space and an expert on elderly care, has put together the following advice with the elderly in mind.
10 things to beat the January blues in the elderly
Plan the year
sort out the calendar and get enthusiastic about the year ahead by putting things in the diary, such as a holiday, an outing, or an event. Having things to look forward to can help focus our thoughts and plans.
This is an important part of living well and longer. Explore lunch clubs and social organisations like the University of the Third Age and the WI. Being sociable helps keep the brain sharp and reduces the risk of becoming isolated and lonely, well-known causes of depression.
Thousands of organisations are crying out for volunteers, such as charity shops, museums, art galleries, the local hospital, and many more. Befriending services are particularly age-friendly, whether on the phone or in person. Still, any volunteering can help maintain confidence and self-esteem, giving someone a sense of purpose and feeling needed by others.
Have a tidy-out
this is an excellent way to help prevent falls around the home; perhaps encourage a bit of a clear-out; some changes to prevent falls are simple such as moving rugs or getting rid of clutter. A spring clean in January can be both cathartic and liberating.
while the days are so short, it can be hard to get out and about; daily exercise is good for the soul and fitness levels, even if it’s just a trip to the shops. GP surgery may well be able to suggest some exercise classes, or there are many local organisations providing classes for older people.
A new project
you are never too old to start something new or learn something, investigate courses, classes, and things to do, or set about putting together the family tree or personal memoirs.
Re-discover the pleasure of food, particularly for those living alone; food can become just fuel. Reignite the pleasure of food and eating with the therapeutic benefits of being in the kitchen. Dig out your favourite old recipes, cook for a neighbour or friend, or enjoy a much-loved dish.
Friends and family
Keep up your connections, Christmas is a busy time, and the quietness of the next few months can be challenging. Stay in touch with family and friends and plan time to catch up, whether it’s a trip to the garden centre or coffee with a neighbour.
Paperwork sort out
A satisfying task to start the year; make or update the list of medications, clear out old bills, and organise your correspondence.
Caring for your future
Staying independent in old age is incredibly important to health and well-being, but don’t be afraid to ask for help if you feel less mobile or frailer.
Annabel James, the founder of Age Space, comments: “Many of us will have spent time with elderly relatives over the festive period and may have noticed ageing, physical deterioration, or perhaps early signs of dementia. Now’s the ideal time to make a family plan, share the load of care and support and enable parents and relatives to continue to enjoy their lives by keeping active, healthy, and busy.”
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