Help Seniors Overcome Seasonal Depression This Winter
Changing seasons can sometimes bring on changes in how we feel. And while for many of us, the holiday season is a joyful time—the colder temperatures and shorter days can bring on darker feelings as well. The low light that occurs in fall and winter can lead to a type of clinical seasonal depression called seasonal affective disorder (SAD). During this time of year, as the hours of daylight begin to fade, be on the lookout for symptoms of depression in your senior loved ones. According to the Mayo Clinic, SAD occurs more often in women than in men, but men’s symptoms can be more severe.
Although they may be dismissed as simply the winter blues, SAD can cause older adults to experience depression, reduced energy and increased moodiness.
When getting together with family during the holidays, keep an eye open for these common signs of depression:
- Extreme sluggishness or fatigue
- Lack of interest in activities that are normally enjoyed
- Overeating/increased appetite
- Suicidal thoughts
Additionally, be on the lookout for these red flags as well:
- Loss of weight: Does the older person seem noticeably thinner?
- Appearance: Has the senior’s overall appearance changed in any way?
- Home: Is the senior’s home environment well cared for? Any significant changes in the way things are done around the home could indicate a problem with health.
- Behavior: Are there any noticeable behavioral changes? Does the senior appear agitated or forgetful? Is he or she still able to move around easily or is more assistance required with mobility? These types of changes could be signs that care is needed at home.
If you notice any of these signs, contact the person’s physician, and begin to consider a plan of care to help. In addition to seasonal depression, those with arthritis may also experience increased pain due to less physical activity, according to a Northwestern Medicine study. To overcome this, federal guidelines recommend seniors engage in low-impact physical activity, such as walking.
When an older loved one begins to show any kind of warning signs, it may be time to consider professional in home care for seniors. Home & Hearth Caregivers’ care team is skilled in helping seniors with seasonal depression and will work with each person’s family to create a personalized care plan to maximize safety and wellbeing. Call us at 800-349-0663 to learn more.