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Starting the DIalogue with your Aging Parents: Beating the Winter Blahs

February 24, 2014

One more month to go and then the calendar will tell us it is officially spring. Here in west-central Idaho we had a warm and sunny January that had us all thinking that we were getting an early spring. Not so. By the end of January we were back to snow, sleet, hail, rain, wind, and the dreaded gray skies. As we’ve moved through February those bleak late winter days have hung over us like clouds of darkness on a dreary landscape. ( A landscape that is vibrant and beautiful the rest of the year and on warm, sunny winter days.)

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for the soft tendrils of a spring sun peaking through and lighting up the world. It will come, as it does every year, but I’m hoping to hurry it along. Your aging parents may be feeling the same way especially if they live in an area where there aren’t many activities to engage in during the winter months. Those who live in urban areas can get out and walk in the malls or take a water aerobics class at an indoor pool. Many rural areas don’t have those options so people tend to stick indoors and hibernate through the winter.

The question is: What can be done to engage interest and activity during the bleak days of winter?

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Encourage your parents or elderly friends to have small social gatherings such as card parties, progressive dinners (or luncheons), board game challenges, or old fashioned quilting bees.
  • Take the time to sit with your parents (if you live close or visit over the phone) while perusing seed catalogs. Seeing the bright colors and planning even a small flower garden can brighten any day.
  • If you live close by plan a day spent in the kitchen baking family favorites and then offer to drive your parents around to their friends or other family members to deliver the items. If you don’t live close by try taking an afternoon to bake your parents’ favorite treats and mail them to them with a nice newsy letter.
  • Projects of any kind can make the days pass more quickly and give everyone a sense of accomplishment. Maybe that box of old photos can be organized into albums or scanned onto a disc to share with other family members as a gift. Dad can get started on some woodworking projects that can result in gifts for the grandkids next Christmas or for upcoming birthdays. The possibilities here are endless.
  • Quilting bees or knitting circles can be a good time filler with productive results. Don’t forget to involve the men. They often enjoy using their hands and socializing just as much as the women do. If you live in close proximity to your parents maybe you can organize this activity or open your home. If you don’t live close then plant the seed with your parents and assist them in setting one up by giving ideas and offering suggestions.
  • Book clubs are another good time passer for the winter months. These can be held in someones home, but can also be about a group of people reading the same book in different locations then having an online chat in the form of a book club. With all the technology available today we don’t have to meet face to face in order to carry on a social event.

Bottom line: Encourage your aging parents to remain active and engaged during these late winter months. Keeping their minds active and their bodies moving improves health and gives a reason to look forward to the coming seasons.

What have you done to keep the boredom at bay for your aging parents during the cold winter months? I’d love to hear from you with any suggestions you’d like to share.

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