Addressing Dimensions of Wellness Can Help Seniors Fight Seasonal Depression
by Lynn Wilson, Founder of The CareGiver Partnership
Good nutrition is a wellness tool.
Seasonal depression, which can range from mild to debilitating, can be addressed, and in many cases, managed, by studying the dimensions of wellness and how they apply to the senior’s life.
Wellness — a state of well being achieved through maximizing individual potential — is important throughout a life cycle, and the winter months especially can be a challenge. This time of year can be difficult because of seasonal affective disorder, weather-related isolation, post-holiday blues and more. By considering the basic dimensions of wellness and how they apply to the elderly, we may be able to help those we care for reach a greater level of well being.
Though the dimensions of wellness can vary depending on the source, here are six basics that form the core of happiness and well being:
Physical: Enjoying improved health through activities that increase cardiovascular endurance, muscle tone and flexibility. Fitness classes for all ages and levels of mobility often can be found in YMCAs, senior centers and assisted living facilities. Walking, gardening, tai chi and swimming also can be gentle but effective mood boosters. Because many seniors are at risk for malnutrition, early identification and treatment of problems can get a loved one back on the track to wellness. See How to Recognize and Prevent Malnutrition in Seniors.
Purposeful (or occupational): Fulfilling the desire to be productive and needed at any age. For seniors, this may be found through volunteer opportunities, such as lending a hand to nonprofit organizations like humane societies or food pantries, sharing gardening skills in a master gardener program or park beautification
project, or teaching an arts and crafts class at a senior center.
Emotional: Ability to respond effectively to feelings and appreciating the importance of maintaining a positive attitude. For older adults, having the ability to cope and adjust to challenges and changes can go a long way toward enjoying life and remaining optimistic. Seniors experiencing difficulties in this area may benefit from counseling.
Social: Encouraging interaction with others and connections that enhance a positive view of life. Isolation is a common cause of depression among seniors. In addition to seeking out opportunities to socialize with positive people, it’s important that seniors who are hard of hearing are fitted with quality hearing aids so they can participate in conversations. For further reading: 4 Services for the Elderly Who Need Help at Home.
Spiritual: Finding meaning in life and nurturing one’s faith and values. Interaction with others who share the same beliefs may be found in study groups, meditation classes, and at church, temple or mosque. Having a peaceful place to go and clear one’s mind can also help find purpose and meaning.
Intellectual: Encouraging the full use of one’s mental capacity to think, analyze, reason and comprehend. At all stages of life, learning is the core of wellness and positive growth. One great learning application that can also improve emotional, social and spiritual dimensions of wellness is learning how to use a computer and social media platforms like Facebook.
For more information, read Helping You Fight Winter’s Risks to the Elderly,