7 Ways for Caregivers to Beat Cabin Fever

Sunrise Senior Living  |  January 31, 2018
7 Ways for Caregivers to Beat Cabin Fever
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When you are a caregiver for a senior loved one, winter can seem to drag on. This is the time of year many caregivers struggle most—when the holidays are long gone, but spring still feels far away. Winter weather can make it too cold or icy to venture outside, especially if your loved one has mobility issues.

February is a time some caregivers may develop a case of cabin fever or the winter blues as a result of spending so much time stuck indoors. Thankfully, there are steps you can take to lighten your mood and boost your spirits until sunnier days arrive again.

7 Ideas to Prevent Cabin Fever this Winter

  1. Befriend the birds: Not all birds head south to escape the cold. Those that are left behind are often colorful and fun to watch. You and your loved one could take up birdwatching through a window overlooking your yard. Install a birdhouse and feeder or two in easy-to-see locations in your backyard. Then, sit back and watch who comes to visit. A pair of inexpensive binoculars might make it easier to see the detail on your feathered friends. You can create a birding journal to document your visitors, or use your cell phone to take photos and video.
  2. Music therapy: Music has healing harmonies that can lift your spirit and boost your mood. You can create playlists filled with music you and your senior both enjoy—such as a morning playlist to energize the two of you, or an evening set to help you relax and sleep better.
  3. Dance party:  Dancing is an activity that can help build stamina, strength, and balance. Hosting a morning dance party can help you beat the blues and start the day on a positive note. If your loved one struggles with mobility, they can dance from a seated position in their favorite chair.
  4. Floral design: Another cold weather activity the two of you might enjoy is learning how to arrange fresh or artificial flowers. You can purchase them at your local grocery store each week or your local craft supply store. YouTube is filled with wonderful how-to videos on how to master the basics of floral design using inexpensive bouquets.
  5. Daily journal: The therapeutic value of journaling is well-documented. Getting your fears, anxieties, highs, and lows down on paper can help you better process difficult emotions. If writing doesn’t sound very enticing, you might also consider creating an art journal that you add to each day. Books like Draw Every Day, Draw Every Way and 500 Drawing Prompts make that easier to do and can provide guidance.
  6. Essential oils: Another tool to beat the winter blues is aromatherapy. Set up diffusers in your home to infuse rooms with different scents. Using lavender essential oil, for example, can help to calm and soothe. Peppermint oil is known to boost energy, while many find the scent of lemon to be uplifting.
  7. Try new recipes: Baking is another activity you and your loved one can do together. Use the Internet to track down new recipes that sound inviting. You will also reap those aromatherapy benefits when smells like vanilla, cinnamon, or freshly baked bread filling your home.

Respite for the Caregiver

If you can’t seem to shake off cabin fever this year, you might need a few days free from the demands of caregiving. Recognize that taking care of yourself is just as important as taking care of your loved one. Whether it is to take a short vacation or just to enjoy a pedicure or massage, a short-term stay at a senior living community may be your solution and in the long run will strengthen your ability to be a good caregiver. Learn about respite care at Sunrise to see how we can help.