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Dad Feels So Cooped Up In the Winter



"We made it through the holidays and Dad was reasonably entertained. He seemed happy some of the time. But now come the long winter days that seem to drag him down. Every year I dread this time.

The older Dad gets, the harder winter seems to feel for us kids. He’s 90 now and no longer drives. We take him everywhere. With snow and ice, he doesn’t take his walks for fear of falling, so he gets out very little.

His days are reduced to television, newspapers, and occasional visits from family. He is clearly not happy being stuck in his home. What ways can we make January through March even a little bit enjoyable?"



This time of year is hard on all of us in the North. I believe it’s doubly hard on those who cannot safely get out. Who wouldn’t feel isolated and lonely?

Since this is your reality and it’s an annual situation that will worsen the older he gets, it might be time to explore a housing situation that provides the human contact he needs. There are many large and small complexes for the elderly that will keep him as busy and engaged as he desires to be. I realize it’s very hard to leave your home. When home is too confining, as his has become for part of the year, is it really the best place to be?

I recommend you visit some communities for the elderly to at least see what’s out there. He might be pleasantly surprised by the options. I’m not talking about a nursing home; rather, independent living in a complex that provides socialization, transportation, and things to do.

If he won’t even look at another living situation, there are ways to make winter a bit better with some effort. Here are some suggestions:

  • Consider a ride service that takes him to the store, the Legion Hall, the library, or a favorite lunch spot a couple of times a week. The Department of Aging will be able to offer suggestions for transportation for the elderly in your area. Also, an Uber or Lyft type of app on his phone can be explored because it’s so easy.
  • Schedule a regular card game at his house with a few friends.
  • Work with family members to stagger visits.
  • Plan specific activities when you’re visiting to make the visits more memorable.
  • Consider regular virtual meetings that include games. Dad will need the appropriate technology to do that though, if he doesn’t have it already.
  • Plan outings that span the winter season.
  • Get Dad going on a puzzle, a project of some sort, or a new skill.

These options will help you make the season a little bit easier for your father, if he’s willing and cooperative.

I wish you a safe and successful winter season.