When an aging adult is moody, sad, irritable, morose or glum during the winter months, some family members dismiss them as just being grumpy or stressed. However, they could be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. This seasonal depression is connected to reduce daylight hours and is a serious mental health issue.
Instead of ignoring it or explaining it away, family members should take them to see their doctor for a diagnosis. SAD is easily treatable, and it can make a real difference in an elderly parent’s physical and mental health.
1. Stay Busy, Healthy and Active
Maintaining a routine is critical when combatting depression of any type. Elderly adults with physical limitations really rely on family caregiver and senior care providers to help them get ready, from bathing and dressing to attending appointment and eating meals. If an elderly person is suffering with SAD, the best thing their support group can do is to keep them on a schedule, serve nutritious food, engage in some form of exercise and stay socially engaged.
2. Exposure to Natural Light
Researchers link sunlight exposure to any number of health issues with the body, from producing vitamin D and melatonin to triggering hormone production and setting circadian rhythms. When an elderly person’s exposure to sunlight is reduced due to age-related illnesses, and then further reduced by shortened daylight hours, it’s easy to see why they are at risk for SAD. Family caregivers and senior care providers can make extra effort to fill the house with natural light by pulling back curtains, trimming shady trees and helping the aging adult to sit on a sunny porch or take a short walk, weather permitting. Even five to ten minutes daily makes a difference.
3. Light Therapy
Light therapy is often recommended by doctors for senior who simply can’t get out and about or whose cases of SAD are quite severe. It’s a medical device with special bulbs that mimic sunlight and provide many of the same physical benefits. Senior care providers can help aging adults set up in front of the light box and monitor their time. While it may seem unconventional, research shows that it has positive effects within days.
Antidepressants are effective against depression and should be prescribed by a doctor or therapist to combat SAD. Elderly adults often take several different types of medication so it’s important that family caregivers and senior care providers remind the aging adult about the antidepressants. When taken regularly, the medicine is quite effective in balancing the chemicals in the brain that contribute to depression.
Many seniors benefit from psychotherapy in relation to SAD treatment. Depression deals with mental health and there are many issues that aging adults deal with that contribute to the stress they feel. Talking with a therapist can help elderly adults modify their behavior and adjust how they react to certain stressors so they can better deal with their seasonal depression.
If You Or An Aging Loved One Are Considering Hiring Senior Care in Largo, FL, Please Contact The Caring Staff At Assisting Hands Home Care Today! 727-748-4211.