Get in touch - 0800 1357420

Get in touch - 0800 1357420

Rangeford Villages Logo

The Impact of Winter on Mental Health in Retirees

05/01/2024 Blog

Winter has the potential to worsen depression or feelings of being down in the elderly. It is a good idea to familiarise yourself with the signs of seasonal depression, understand the reasons behind wintertime gloom, and explore strategies for supporting this.

Numerous elements of winter can impact the mental well-being of your senior family members. Reduced sunlight and shorter days may disrupt the body's internal clock, leading to alterations in mood and energy levels. This disruption is particularly prevalent among seniors and retirees who may already be grappling with additional challenges like health issues or perhaps isolation. Severe cases of seasonal depression can be diagnosed as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

SAD is a form of depression that manifests during specific seasons, typically in winter. Healthcare professionals attribute this disorder to a chemical shift in the brain triggered by diminished sunlight and shorter daylight hours in winter. It's crucial to distinguish SAD from general mood fluctuations or other depression types. SAD follows a recurring seasonal pattern lasting around four to five months.


What are the signs of SAD in seniors?

  • Persistent low mood, sadness, anxiety, or irritability
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • Withdrawal from social engagements or a tendency to "hibernate"
  • Increased sleep, daytime drowsiness, lethargy, or low energy levels
  • Feelings of despair, guilt, or worthlessness
  • Elevated appetite, especially for sweets and carbohydrates
  • Weight gain
  • Physical health issues like headaches

Should these symptoms persist in your elderly loved one, seeking advice from a healthcare professional is imperative. Common SAD treatments involve heightened sunlight exposure through outdoor activities or staying close to a window, light therapy mimicking natural sunlight, vitamin D supplementation, psychotherapy to address distorted views, and medical intervention such as antidepressants.

The National Institute of Mental Health stresses the distinction between SAD and the "holiday blues," which are typically transient feelings of sadness or anxiety induced by holiday-related stress.


Strategies for Combating Winter Depression in the Elderly

Regardless of a SAD diagnosis, you and the caregiving team can significantly contribute to helping seniors cope with winter blues.

Here are some supportive measures:

  • Encourage physical activity Gentle indoor exercises, according to the National Institute of Aging, can uplift your loved one's spirits. Our retirement villages provide on-site fitness facilities, wellness programs, and healthcare services. 
  • Promote social interaction Consistent communication, whether in person or through calls and video chats, can alleviate loneliness. Here at Rangeford Retirement Villages you can get as involved with others as you like. We also offer companion care for socialisation and engaging conversations.
  • Maximize exposure to natural light As mentioned in the list of SAD treatments, increasing natural light exposure can diminish depression in the elderly. Keep curtains open during the day and encourage your loved one to sit near windows.
  • Engage in winter activities for seniors Plan enjoyable indoor activities such as games, crafts, or listening to music to engage seniors mentally. Here you can pursue new hobbies, participate in group activities and keep busy.
  • Maintain a healthy diet A well-balanced diet enhances overall energy levels and mood, including staying adequately hydrated.


Here at Rangeford Villages, we create beautiful, aspirational places for residents over 60 to enjoy later life, in safe, secure and homely surroundings. We welcome communities of people who want to enjoy life to the full and guarantee that your friends and family will love to visit. Each retirement village is unique, with its own character and core amenities, creating relaxing, yet vibrant environments where new friendships are made, and everyone is welcomed. You can find out about each one here.


We know that considering a move to a retirement village is a very personal choice that has to feel right for you. Our village sales advisors are always available at the end of the phone to discuss and talk through any questions you may have.

Keep up to date with Rangeford Villages news and events

Subscribe to our mailing list today

By subscribing you are accepting our privacy policy