The 3rd Monday of January is called “Blue Monday”. The term “Blue Monday” was introduced as a marketing strategy to encourage people to buy winter get-away trips. However, in British Columbia, winter months pose serious challenges for the elderly – lousy weather limits mobility, lack of sunlight and isolation create a stark contrast with the recent holiday season when the family is visiting, days are occupied in planning, shopping, and gift-giving. Our world has changed and now many independent-living seniors can’t rely on the closest neighbour’s fellowship like it was so common before.
We asked our manager of The Cridge Seniors’ Services, Sarah Smith, about the best strategies to overcome the feeling of loneliness and isolation. “Visiting is the biggest thing”, Sarah responded. “They need their families!”
For seniors, it is also about learning how to dance in the storm. Here are some other tips that might help to overcome the January Blues.
- Talk to your family about it
Sometimes we feel uncomfortable bringing up feelings of sadness and loneliness that we experience. Your family won’t consider it to be a burden and it might make you feel better – the knowledge that you are heard and supported.
- Connect with others
Consider joining a club or inviting an old friend over for tea. If it is hard for you to get out of the house, consider dialling the number – you might be surprised how much joy comes from a nice old fashioned chat on the phone.
- Create a list of New Years’ resolutions
Write down your thoughts and wishes – this can make a big difference in how you perceive your life. Your goals don’t have to be grandiose – it can be about a few important things: decide to read a new book every month, drink enough water or make new friends – or perhaps you want to learn a new skill! It is never too late to learn something new and exciting.
- Make your home safer
Think smart – most of the falls and injuries that occur at home are preventable. Make sure you have a list of all the important phone numbers on your fridge, carry a cell phone with you when going for a walk, keep a working flashlight on the nightstand and make sure that throw rugs are not movable and won’t slip underneath you.
- Connect with community services
Many seniors choose to volunteer in a local museum or a charity. In Victoria, community centers offer a variety of senior-oriented activities that will help you to connect with peers and brighten up your day. If you are feeling isolated and overwhelmed, you can always reach out to support services like BC211 or call 811. Here are some other support services that make a difference in our community:
Living Life to the Full – is a free, interactive, facilitated 8-week course for youth, adults, and seniors based on the principles of cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) that improves resilience, mood, well-being, anxiety, and social support. Available in Chinese, French and English. For more information, call 250-216-4228
Seniors Serving Seniors – is a telephone line that provides comprehensive information and referral to resources for seniors available throughout the region. Office and Senior Link hours are 9 am to 4 pm Monday to Thursday. Dial Senior Link at 250-413-3211