This winter has been a particularly hard season for much of the country, as we’ve seen multiple snowstorms and record low temperatures. The polar vortex is a name that many states have come to know all too well, and all of these cold and snowy days are accompanied with gray skies and freezing temps that force people to stay in their homes.

Not being able to get outside and enjoy sunshine can take a toll on anyone’s mood. Of particular concern are elders and their caregivers. It can be difficult enough for an elder to get outdoors because of physical limitations, but when the weather conditions are poor, it makes it nearly impossible.

As a caregiver, what can you do to help an elder beat the winter blues? Normally, it’s recommended that people take walks, connect with nature and get fresh air, but when this is not possible, you will need to think outside the box.

Find Opportunities to be Physically Active

Moving the body is so important because it increases blood flow, relieves soreness and stiffness and boosts the mood. For elders, stretching or yoga is an excellent activity that can be done at a slow pace. Stationary bikes or a dance DVD can also be used for those who are in good physical shape. The important part is that you encourage the person to move around and not fall victim to a sedentary lifestyle.

Keep the Mind Active

Turning on the television may seem like an easy way to pass time, but it’s important to keep the mind active. Offer your loved one activities like crossword puzzles, word finds or Sudoku, which can be found in activity books at any local store. Or, challenge the person to a simple board game like checkers or Scrabble. Even kids’ games work well.

Offer New Crafts

To keep the mind sharp, it’s also smart to offer an elder new activities and crafts to try. Some may be more inclined than others, but even those who have little or no background in crafts can learn how to knit or even play an instrument. While you don’t want to choose activities that are too hard and will frustrate the person, you do want to offer a constant flow of fun and fresh activities that test out new skills.

Encourage Social Interaction

It’s easy to feel shut off from the world in the winter, but this doesn’t have to be the case. As the caregiver, be sure to spend quality time with your loved one. Also, using the internet can be helpful, as sites like Facebook and Skype keep people connected and give elders a chance to look at pictures of grandchildren and friends. Encourage extended family to also place a phone call each week for additional interaction.