With the winter season upon us, slips and falls become a great concern for seniors and their loved ones. However, there is another risk of the season that often goes overlooked–Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as SAD. As leaders in elderly care, the Renaissance Home Health Agency knows that preventing and treating seasonal depression in seniors is crucial. Fortunately, it is fairly easy to prevent and there are some very simple ways to support those who may be experiencing SAD.
What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression that generally occurs seasonally. It can develop at any time but hits most people in the fall and winter. There’s no denying that the holiday season can be a lonely time for some, but if feelings of sadness persist for more than one or two weeks, it may be an indication that someone is suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder.
People who are affected by the winter form of Seasonal Affective Disorder tend to exhibit symptoms of depression as the days get colder and shorter. Elderly depression symptoms can include:
- Increased lethargy and a lack of energy
- Feelings of sadness and/or increased moodiness
- Drastic changes in appetite – noticeable weight loss or weight gain
The difference between depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder is that SAD occurs at certain times of the year, whereas depression may be ongoing and will persist regardless of the season.
How to Prevent Seasonal Affective Disorder Among Seniors
Seasonal Affective Disorder is usually caused – and exacerbated – by hormonal changes that result from less daylight during the fall and winter. We already know that sunlight contains Vitamin D, which is helpful for uplifting moods. Psychologically, longer periods of darkness and cold temperatures can dampen anyone’s mood.
The situation can be compounded when someone stays indoors more frequently through the winter months, with access to far less sunlight and exercise than other seasons of the year.
- Make sure your loved one ventures outside occasionally during this time, for fresh air and natural sunlight. Go for short walks and enjoy the holiday lights!
- Encourage your loved one to remain social so that they may maintain positivity and feel connected to people. There is no better time of the year for fellowship and community.
- Ensure your loved one gets enough Vitamin D – in their diet or with supplements if required. Of course, absorbing it from natural sunlight is ideal.
- Sometimes a senior may require further treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder, in which case their physician may suggest light therapy or prescribe a medication. Remind your loved one that it is perfectly normal for some to need an extra “boost” in this season.
It certainly can be challenging to maintain motivated to get outside and remain active, but if you come up with fun activities – like a winter themed excursion or activity with the family and grandchildren, for example – they will be excited to go out.
Keeping Seniors Healthy and Happy with Adult Day Care
As a holistic home health agency that offers both home care and adult day care services, we ensure that our clients have everything they need to lead healthy and happy lives–no matter the season! In addition to providing nutritious snacks and plenty of recreational activities to keep their days active, we are pleased to offer ongoing day trips and excursions designed to be educational and engaging. These events not only provide social opportunities, but also physical exercise, all of which foster the prevention of senior seasonal affective disorder.