Avoiding the post-holiday slide into depression

It may not have been a jolly holiday season for seniors who live alone. Two out of every seven American seniors live alone, according to a recent estimate from the National Council on Aging (NCOA) — and with more than 60,000 seniors living in Dutchess County, that would be more than 17,000 of our senior friends and neighbors living on their own.

Being alone for the holidays, and through the winter, can bring an even heavier burden of loneliness — equivalent to a 15-cigarette-a-day smoking habit, according to NCOA. As a risk factor, loneliness has more impact on seniors’ mortality than even obesity or a sedentary lifestyle.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

The Office for the Aging (OFA) plays a key role in helping seniors maintain social connections and keep loneliness at bay, most notably with our eight Senior Friendship Centers, in Beacon, East Fishkill, Millerton, Pawling, Red Hook, South Amenia (Wassaic), the City of Poughkeepsie and Pleasant Valley, where our Tri-Town Senior Friendship Center reopened last fall.

Visit a Friendship Center and the first thing you may hear are seniors laughing. There could be a furious game of mah-jongg happening at one table. At the next table over, seniors are debating how the Knicks look this season. At another table, it’s an exchange of advice on which stores have been able to keep cans of cat food stocked.

There’s also a nutritious midday meal and a regular variety of informative and entertaining presentations. If a senior you know is interested in finding out more about Senior Friendship Centers, contact information is available at www.dutchessny.gov/OFANutrition or by calling 845-486-2555.

Good nutrition can defeat the winter blues

As the glow of the holidays fades, feeling a bit blue may seem normal enough — but there’s reason to be concerned if the feeling continues for more than a couple of weeks. It may be Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Even pets can suffer from SAD, according to researchers from the University of British Columbia.

While a call to a healthcare provider may be in order, there’s a good chance a senior could be prescribed good nutrition rather than an antidepressant, especially if the senior is already taking several other prescribed medications.

This month’s issue of the OFA Nutrition News contains a trove of useful information on nutrition’s role in preventing depression, including the foods that can help and those that can’t.

There’s also an easy recipe for Portuguese caldo verde, a hearty green soup containing potatoes, collards or kale and chicken or beans. You can find each Nutrition News at www.dutchessny.gov/OFANutrition.

 

Golden Living is prepared by Dutchess County OFA Director Todd N. Tancredi, who can be reached at 845-486-2555, ofa@dutchessny.gov or via the OFA website at www.dutchessny.gov/aging.

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