Winter can be a difficult and emotionally-taxing time for everyone. Senior living residents are no exception, and they can often be more susceptible to feelings of loneliness, isolation and boredom during the winter months.
Activity and life enrichment leaders at senior living communities can take an active role in reducing winter loneliness. Planning creative, purposeful activities can help bring your residents together and increase the health of your entire community.
Let’s dive into the causes of seasonal sadness, and suggest a handful of activity ideas for you and your residents.
Senior Loneliness and SAD
Life sometimes seems a little slower during the winter months. In colder climates, it’s difficult to find time for outdoor activities when temperatures drop. Days are shorter, and we all have less time to soak up Vitamin D with the sun on our face.
Families and friends might be less likely to visit your community due to bad weather. Residents that love the outdoors could start to feel confined when they’re spending more time inside. For a variety of reasons, residents might appear lethargic, easily distracted or moody.
Don’t brush this off as a case of “the winter blues” or a “seasonal funk.” These are classic signs of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which presents serious risks to seniors. A resident skipping social engagements or appearing sluggish in the winter could be in line for future complications.
Studies from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine show that loneliness, social isolation and poor social relationships can lead to:
- A 50% increased risk of dementia
- A 29% increased risk of heart disease
- A 32% increased risk of stroke
- Higher rates of depression, anxiety and suicide
Community leaders must recognize these risks and understand the importance of purposeful activity planning during the winter.
Hearing Loss Contributes to Winter Loneliness
Residents experiencing hearing loss might have even more difficulties in this part of the calendar. Untreated hearing loss can lead to an increased risk of falls, isolation, loneliness, and a 21% increased likelihood of death.
Strategic investments in purposeful technology can help communities maintain an active, healthy census. A system like Eversound could provide a boost during slower winter months. Eversound’s wireless headphone system amplifies sound and enhances communication, allowing residents to hear crystal clear — without the need for WiFi or cellular service.
As activity directors get more creative in the winter months, it’s important to have supporting technology that ensures residents experiencing hearing loss are still included in group activities. Speaking of, let’s explore some ideas to keep your community lively in the winter.
7 Creative Events to Fend off Winter Loneliness
Winter doesn’t have to be so glum! Life enrichment directors can use these ideas for inspiration:
Indoor Senior Outings
It’s tempting to think that senior outings should slow down or stop during the winter. Your residents don’t need sunshine and warm weather to have a good time!
Think up some indoor activities that still provide enrichment. You could take a trip to a local museum or art gallery (and don’t forget to bring your Eversound headphone system to follow what the docent is sharing).
A movie theatre matinee provides a cozy escape from your community. Perhaps you can attend a hockey or basketball game for a local semi-pro or high school team. Maybe there’s a local pottery or art studio with discounted classes for seniors.
Jobs Around the Community
Many of your residents are likely seeking an opportunity to make their own imprint on your community. Winter is a great chance to empower them with tasks that help their neighbors.
An avid reader could be encouraged to help re-organize the library or organize a book club (more on that in a second). Creative folks can be tasked with winter-themed decorating. Outgoing residents might greet guests at the door, or join prospect tours as Community Ambassadors using Eversound to enhance communication within the tour group.
Sitting by the fire with a good book is one of the joys of winter. Adding a social element to reading — such as a book club — can take this joy even further.
Let community members vote on their next book choice. Give a couple of weeks for everyone to finish reading independently, and then set up small group discussions (with Eversound present) for residents to share their thoughts. It’s a great way to stay sharp and share experiences.
Winter is a hard time for many outside your community. Give your residents the chance to make a charitable impact for a cause they support. Helping others is often invigorating!
Residents could write thank you letters to first responders, send candy grams to children in need, or host a bake sale to generate proceeds to any cause.
Guided Fitness Classes
Staying physically active is a great way to fend off SA. Activity directors can find easy guided videos to assist with indoor yoga or aerobics classes on the Eversound members portal. Additionally, Eversound headphones can help residents follow along during group classes.
We all miss green trees and vibrant flowers during the winter months. Why not bring a little taste of nature into your community to improve mental health and wellness?
Gardening can be a fulfilling and relaxing experience, and the supplies (pots, plants, soil, tools) aren’t typically expensive. Set up a community garden in an area with adequate sunlight, and let your residents see the fruits (and flowers) of their labor!
Fuel the Competition
Everyone loves friendly competition! Don’t be afraid to sprinkle in competitive elements to any of the activities outlined above. Group fitness challenges, bake-offs or charity challenges can help create buzz and build bonds.
Combatting Winter Loneliness with Eversound
Over 1,000 communities across the country are using Eversound to augment their efforts to curb winter loneliness and isolation.
The Eversound wireless listening system helps increase the impact of group activities, and the Eversound members portal is a great tool to help pack your activity calendar.
Best of all? Eversound pays for itself: one net new rental will easily cover the $260/mo average cost for the basic Eversound package. Community leaders can rest assured that they’re making a sound investment.
Get in touch with the Eversound team today to see how you can give a boost to your community this winter.