Category: Seniors and winter weather

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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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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Is It Spring Yet? Weather-Related Depression in the Elderly

Winter weather can keep seniors homebound and isolated. After all, biting cold and snowy days can make anyone want to stay in a warm bed or just sit all day wrapped up in a quilt. A day or two of the “winter blues” can be normal, but when weather-related depression becomes debilitating for more than a week or two, caregivers should start looking for a deeper or treatable cause. Although falls and hypothermia are likely to top the list of caregiver concerns during winter months, seniors are also at risk for these health hazards: Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)  A lack of natural light can cause depression in both young and old alike. We don’t know for sure why less sunlight causes depression. One theory is that the seasonal changes interfere with an important amino acid in our bodies called Melatonin, which regulates our sleep-wake cycles and may play a role in mood and appetite. The main difference between SAD, or weather-related depression, and general depression is that SAD only occurs during certain times of the year. Signs of SAD include a loss of energy, changes in appetite and sleeping habits, irritability, and loss of interest in socializing and other activities. These changes in behavior can be worse if a person cannot or does not want to regularly spend time outdoors. This especially impacts the elderly, who are more likely to be housebound or want to stay indoors. Like other forms of depression, SAD can be treated with antidepressant medications. A drug-free option is light therapy. It requires a “light box,” a fluorescent lamp that emits a spectrum of light that simulates natural sunlight. A more natural alternative to light therapy is daily exposure to sunlight. If time, physical health, and weather conditions permit, it is beneficial for a person with

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