Helping Seniors Overcome Seasonal Affective Disorder
— November 8th, 2018
You may have heard of Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, where people get depressed in the winter due to shorter daylight hours. Elderly adults are particularly vulnerable to depression anyhow, and many of them succumb to SAD each year. Family caregivers that notice symptoms of depression in their elderly loved one during the winter months should schedule a visit to the doctor for a diagnosis.
Causes and Symptoms of SAD
While scientists don’t know exactly what causes SAD, they do know that it is connected to the reduced exposure to sunlight and how that affects the body. More people at higher latitudes, where winter days are darker, suffer from SAD. Elderly adults that have mobility issues and health conditions that prevent them from being fully active are also at a higher risk for developing SAD.
Symptoms include lethargy, feelings of hopelessness, insomnia, mood swings, extreme sadness, irritability, drug or alcohol abuse, and thoughts of suicide. SAD symptoms usually appear in the late fall, then fade again in spring with the changing of the seasons. Family caregivers need to listen to what the doctor recommends as far as treatment options for their elderly loved one with SAD.
Helping Seniors with SAD Treatment
Treating SAD is a multi-step approach, and family caregivers may want to consider hiring a senior care provider to work with their elderly loved one. Doctors recommend an increase in healthy habits, like nutritious meals, exercise, and good sleep. Many elderly adults struggle to do these things on their own, especially if they have a chronic illness or mobility problems. A senior care provider can prepare meals, encourage activity, monitor safety and help seniors throughout the day.
Doctors also recommend light exposure, where the elderly person gets as much contact with natural light as possible during winter. Ideas include car rides, short walks, sitting in front of the south- or west-facing windows with the blinds open, light box therapy and more. Senior care providers can ensure the aging adult gets the appropriate light exposure each day to help them feel better.
In moderate to serious cases, doctors may recommend antidepressant medication and talk therapy with a professional. Senior care providers can remind elderly adults about taking their medication on time and can even drive them to the therapist for appointments. It can be difficult for elderly adults to manage their own treatments for SAD, but a senior care provider can be the support they need to find success.
It’s always difficult for family members to see their aging loved one struggle with a chronic health condition like SAD. The good news is that SAD is quite treatable and with the right support from family, friends and a senior care provider, there’s no reason why an elderly adult can’t overcome the winter blues and enjoy the season once again.
If you or an aging loved-one are considering hiring a Caregiver in Markham, please contact the caring staff at Geri Health Home Care today. Call us at 416-431-6266. Serving Greater Toronto Area, Markham, Richmond Hill, and Vaughan.