During winter time, a considerable number of people experience sadness and depression due to a condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This is especially true with some seniors.
If you have an older loved one struggling with symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder, there is help available.
What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a condition that triggers depression typically during the winter months. SAD is primarily caused by a diminishing amount of light, and shorter days that occur during this time of year. Symptoms of SAD include depression, irritability, loss of interest in hobbies, or spending time with people, a change in eating habits, and a lack of energy.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, SAD symptoms affect women more, and also people who live further away from the equator, where sunlight is diminished during the winter months.
Helping Seniors with Seasonal Depression
Let’s take a look at 5 ways that you can help an older love one cope with the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Consult Their Doctor
The first step in seeking relief from SAD is for your loved one to go see their doctor regarding the issue. In addition to non-medicinal methods to combat the condition, their doctor may also prescribe medication to help. It’s also very important to keep your loved one’s doctor in the loop about any other methods you might try to help the depression symptoms.
A Light Box
Bright Light Therapy is widely thought to be an effective solution for treating SAD based depression. Spending time with a specially designed light box simulates sunshine and can help keep your loved one’s circadian rhythm stable
The light produced by these products are much brighter than regular household lamps, and also emit different wavelength patterns.
Participate in Social Activities
It might be more challenging to get together with family and friends in the winter time, but help your loved one stay as socially engaged as possible. Spending time with people they care about can go a long way in getting a senior through seasonal depression.
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Exercise As Much as Possible
True for nearly all people regardless of age, exercise is a great way to fight depression and elevate mood through chemical changes in the brain. When people exercise, endorphins and other feel-good chemicals are released.
Find an exercise plan that your loved one can do that aligns with their physical condition. Outdoor exercise will yield a double benefit as exposure to light will greatly help with the SAD symptoms.
Boost Vitamin D Intake
Vitamin D levels which occur naturally from the Sun are normally lower or lacking in some seniors during winter. While it is not entirely conclusive, some research indicates that Vitamin D can help with depression and minimize negative emotions.
Find ways to help your loved one absorb more Vitamin D with supplements or through eating Vitamin D rich foods such as salmon, orange juice, fortified dairy products, and cod liver oil.
Frontier Senior Living is Here to Help
Depression and the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) can be particularly challenging for some seniors. These 5 tips are designed to help your older loved one not only during the winter months, but all year long.
The experienced and compassionate staff at Frontier Senior Living have helped many seniors build a lifestyle filled with purpose and meaning. If you would like to learn more about our services, we invite you to take a tour of one of our beautiful communities and speak with our friendly staff members.