Category: Depression

A man displays one of the warning signs of seasonal affective disorder – a lack of interest in enjoyable activities – as he waves forlornly out the window.

SAD Seniors: Warning Signs of Seasonal Affective Disorder and How to Help

The holiday season is often synonymous with joy, warmth, and togetherness as families come together to celebrate. However, it’s essential to acknowledge that not everyone experiences this time of year with the same festive spirit. The darker days of fall and winter can cast a shadow on some individuals, leading to a form of clinical depression known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). While many may dismiss it as the winter blues, SAD can particularly affect seniors, triggering memories of past holidays spent with loved ones who are no longer present. As you gather with your family during the holidays, it’s crucial to be attentive to warning signs of seasonal affective disorder in your older loved ones. Identifying these signs early on can make a significant difference in their well-being. Some common indicators of depression, including SAD, include oversleeping, extreme fatigue, a lack of interest in activities that were once enjoyable, increased appetite or overeating, and in severe cases, even suicidal thoughts. However, depression in seniors during the holidays may manifest in more subtle ways. Look out for these additional warning signs that could indicate a need for assistance: Weight Loss: Has the senior noticeably lost weight? Sudden changes in body weight can be a red flag for underlying health issues. Appearance: Take note if there are unexpected changes in the senior’s general appearance. This could include unkempt personal hygiene or a significant shift in clothing choices. Household Upkeep: Assess the overall condition of the senior’s home. Any drastic changes in how the house is maintained may provide clues about their well-being. General Behavior: Observe any alterations in the senior’s behavior. Are they more agitated or forgetful than usual? Is mobility becoming an issue, requiring more assistance? Such behavioral changes might indicate a need for additional care at home. If any

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Alarm Clock

The Risks of Sleep Deprivation in the Elderly & Their Caregivers

Older adults need about the same amount of sleep as people in their 20s, but many elderly people get much less sleep than they need. Common causes of insomnia or trouble sleeping can include health issues such as the pain from arthritis, some medications, and the need for frequent urination. Sleep apnea and restless legs syndrome are also more likely in seniors. A cause we don’t often hear about is that as we age, our body’s internal clock adjusts to earlier sleep and wakeup times. If seniors stay up late, they are likely to wake up at their usual early hour, thus experiencing the side-effects of a sleep-deprived day. While sleep requirements vary slightly for each person, most healthy adults require seven to nine hours of sleep per night. How you feel in the morning is a better indication of what you need. Frequently waking up not feeling rested or feeling tired and wanting to sleep during the day are the best signs that you’re not getting enough sleep. Disturbed sleep and waking up tired are not part of normal aging. It’s important to get to the root cause of sleepless nights because not getting enough sleep carries with it several important health risks and concerns. Sleep deprivation can: Take a toll on nearly every part of your life, no matter how old or young you are. Be as dangerous for drivers as alcohol consumption, adding to the risks affecting a senior’s ability to be a safe driver. Make falls and other accidents more likely. Increase the risk of diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and other health issues. Cause depression, attention, and memory problems. Increase the risk of neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, and potentially speed their progression. Research suggests that poor sleep can cause dementia and dementia can

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A cartoon man investigates the brain for signs of a traumatic brain injury.

How the Site of Injury Impacts the Signs of a Traumatic Brain Injury

There’s no other organ in the body more intricate and vital than the brain. It calls all the shots in every part of our body. It runs in the background, keeping us alive, and, in the foreground as the home of our cognizance. This is why, clearly, when a person goes through a traumatic brain injury, there is so much concern. At Dakota Home Care, we understand that being familiar with the signs of a traumatic brain injury in relation to the area in the brain where the trauma took place can help families better understand and make more informed decisions regarding their loved one’s care. Occipital Lobe: Our sight is housed in the occipital lobe. The results of an occipital lobe injury might include vision problems, such as blurred vision or blind spots, hallucinations, visual illusions, the inability to recognize the movement of an object, or challenges with reading and writing. Frontal Lobe: The frontal lobe is home to an individual’s personality, intelligence, and feelings. It is the region of the brain that manages concentration, makes judgments, and solves problems. It also controls body movement, including speech and writing. The effects of a frontal lobe injury can include changes and/or problems with the core functions controlled by the frontal lobe plus more subtle manifestations of the core functionality, like a lack of inhibition, an impaired sense of smell, vision loss, persistence of a single thought, and mood swings. Cerebellum: Our movement, coordination and balance are controlled by the cerebellum. A cerebellum injury can cause an individual to lose the ability to do things that require coordination, such as walking, talking, or reaching out to grab something. It can also cause tremors, dizziness, and/or slurred speech. Parietal Lobe: The parietal lobe controls a variety of functions, including our comprehension of

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Man and Spring Flowers

Feeling Isolated and Lonely? Make the Most of Spring!

Unwanted isolation and loneliness or lack of connection can be byproducts of a long winter for anyone. Seniors and the handicapped are especially vulnerable. It’s difficult for them to be out and about, and it can be difficult for loved ones to visit them in person or take them places. We are all looking longingly for signs of spring. If possible, consider including others who have been homebound in your plans for the warmer days ahead. Spring Activities for Yourself and Your Loved One If you or a loved one or someone you care for has been stuck inside, fresh air and sunshine have been in short supply. Here are some suggestions for what you could do together on a spring day, depending on the person’s health and mobility: Open a window and sit close to it for a visit. Dress comfortably and sit outside. Enjoy the sunshine and whatever is growing. Take a sort walk around the neighborhood or a park. Interact with neighbors. Say “hello” to everyone you see while you’re out. Go out for lunch or bring in a take-out and eat it outside. Go on a scenic drive together. Point out spring blossoms and green leaves. Get a bird feeder and put it where it can be seen easily either inside or out. Bird watch. Visit a plant nursery and, if possible, buy something you can plant together. Bring flowers in. Wildflowers in a glass or even manmade blooms can brighten up a room. Draw or color pictures with a spring theme. Do it outside. Have an outdoor celebration of spring with family members. Make decorations for it. Do some spring cleaning. Help your loved one get rid of clutter. Find simple chores you and your loved one can do together to clean up the yard.

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Happy senior woman with her pet cat

Pets for Seniors: Benefits vs. Difficulties

How does having or not having a pet fit into keeping home an option for your elderly loved one? Is senior pet ownership healthy or harmful? Numerous studies have been conducted, but the result statistics, either positive or negative, are difficult to prove. “I’m not a Grinch, but the science is not as clear as most people think,” said Dr. Harold Herzog, professor of psychology at Western Carolina University. “There is little debate about the safety and success of pet programs that bring animals into nursing homes or hospitals for patients to play with and pet, but individual pet ownership may be a different proposition, and it depends a great deal on the strengths and weaknesses of the owner.” 10 Possible Benefits: Ten possible pet ownership benefits that have been studied may seem obviously positive for the elderly: Comfort and companionship that can lessen loneliness and depression Increased social interaction: trips to the vet and pet store, walks where other pet owners gather, opportunities for withdrawn seniors to talk about a loved companion Reduced stress that could lower blood pressure (increased stress is also a possibility) Getting more healthy exercise in a pleasant way, by walking, feeding, brushing, or even just moving to look at pets like fish or birds According to a new study by the University of Minnesota Stroke Research Center, even having a cat somehow lowered their owners’ chances of dying of heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases, compared with people who didn’t own a cat. Feeling needed and unconditionally loved are common responses from pet owners More Tactile (touching) and cognitive (mental) stimulation are healthy for people of all ages Having a routine, structure and purpose is required to keep a pet healthy and happy and is good for the pet owner, too. Security for seniors

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It’s Spring! Why is Senior Depression Affecting My Loved One?

Even though spring flowers are starting to bloom, cool, rainy or even sunny spring days still can bring on feelings of sadness, depression and a lack of desire to do much of anything. While the rest of us can start doing some favorite outdoor activities and more easily get out to see family and friends, our loved ones may still feel homebound and missing the increased mobility they used to look forward to in spring. The care companions at Dakota Home Care share the following possible causes of senior depression: Less Socializing & the Technology Gap: During any time of the year, depression can be caused by social isolation. Help the senior to spend more time with family, friends and neighbors, and when unpredictable spring weather makes visiting difficult, call them for a chat or write a letter that can be read over and over. While the younger generations are staying well connected with all of today’s high tech gadgets, the elderly are often left out. Older family members need to feel connected, wanted, and loved, too. Some training in electronic ways to connect may help bridge the gap, but many elderly people are incapable of mastering email, Facebook or Skype. Friends can play a vital role in socialization, and new friends can be found at senior centers, church activities or even the library. Loneliness: Older people are particularly vulnerable to loneliness. Loss of a spouse, friends, family, mobility or income can all play a part. Studies show that being lonely is a leading cause for poor physical and mental health among the elderly and can even lead to early death. When loneliness sets in, it can increase the risk of high blood pressure, over-eating, under-eating, excessive drinking, senior depression, heart disease and other debilitating diseases, such as arthritis, osteoporosis and glaucoma.

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