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When thinking about how to survive the long dark days of winter, perhaps the best place to go for advice is Norway. Tromso, Norway is located more than 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle and there the sun doesn’t rise at all between November and January, a period called the “Polar Nights”. The residents of Tromso are experts at living well in winter darkness; research showed that the residents of Tromsø have the same rates of self-reported wintertime depression as the residents of Montgomery County, Maryland. The people of Norway practice several strategies to successfully cope with winter darkness and these can be easily adopted by seniors. Exercise: This is important year round and even more so when the goal is to maintain a positive mood. There are many places to exercise indoors: malls, gyms, indoor tracks, YWCAs, YMCAs, and civic organizations like the Boys and Girls Club. Senior centers and community groups offer many different types of exercise classes including chair yoga, Tai Chi, and dance. Fresh air: Unless it is below zero and a hypothermia warning is in place, it is important for seniors to get outside for a few minutes a day. It is good for their health. Make sure your loved one is bundled in the right winter clothing including hats and gloves, and then step outside to take a few deep breaths of fresh air. Good Nutrition: Comfort foods can be an enjoyable part of long winter nights. Spending the time to make soups and stews with your loved one provides positive shared time and nutritious food that can be stored in the refrigerator and/or freezer. Salads aren’t necessarily appealing when it is cold outside, but roasted vegetables, stewed winter fruits, and healthy warming soups are good ways to eat fruits and vegetables. Pursue interesting activities: Interesting indoor activities will push the darkness aside. Many of them can be pursued at home including board games, jigsaw puzzles, computer games, and watching old movies on television, cable, or with DVDs. Activities keep the mind active and interested and creates a positive mood. Maintain a positive attitude: The longer winter months can be a good time for reflection and the collection of thoughts. For seniors this can be a good time to begin writing a journal or letters to children and grandchildren. A family tree can be started, genealogy can be traced and scrapbooks created. Home Care Assistance caregivers are trained to care for your loved one and help them maintain a positive attitude. Our caregivers are trained to enhance wellness and improve positive aging as much as possible. They understand the limitations that can come with aging, illness, and cognitive disabilities like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. If your loved one struggles during the long winter months call us for support. We will bring our compassion and trained caregivers to your loved one, matching personalities and developing a care plan specifically for their needs. Winters are long and Home Care Assistance caregivers can provide the companionship and activities necessary so your loved one can thrive.
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