Seasonal Affective Disorder – what seniors can do to relieve symptoms

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What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Seasonal affective disorder is a form of temporary depression triggered by the weather that comes with the fall and winter seasons. People with S.A.D. can experience symptoms of depression, such as mood swings and fatigue, when the seasons turn and there’s less sunlight out. Typically, January and February are the most challenging months for people with Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Common Signs of Seasonal Affective Disorder

Just like many other mental health conditions, S.A.D. can present itself in various ways in an individual. Some of the common symptoms of the disorder include:

  • Difficulties concentrating
  • Fatigue
  • Feelings of pessimism, hopelessness, guilt, worthlessness, helplessness
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Change in personal hygiene upkeep
  • Loss of interest in hobbies and activities
  • Appetite loss or overeating
  • Digestive issues
  • Constant aches, pains, cramps, headaches
  • Persistent feelings of being sad or anxious
  • Suicidal thoughts

Tips for Seniors to Relieve S.A.D. Symptoms

Seniors may be more susceptible to S.A.D. due to their limited mobility and social isolation. Here are some proactive tips seniors can take to reduce the impact of seasonal affective disorder this winter.

Light Therapy

A large part of seasonal affective disorder stems from the lack of sunlight during the fall and winter months. To combat this, there are intense special lights available that trigger a chemical change in our brains that help to improve our mood and relieve S.A.D. symptoms. Individuals only need to sit in front of this light for 30 minutes a day to see the benefits.

However, before purchasing this type of light, consult with your physician if this option is safe for you.

Seasonal Disorder Companionship

Unfortunately, many seniors suffer from a lack of social interactions – especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Seniors can sometimes also avoid reaching out to family members because they don’t want to burden them. Or, it might be that a partner who was a constant companion has recently passed. A Merck Manual study in 2016 found that about 13.8 million seniors not living in a nursing home live alone. Isolation can lead to depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, and mental health issues, in addition to making some more susceptible to S.A.D.

Whatever the case, it’s crucial to increase social interactions – virtually or within your bubble – during the cold, dark months to reduce S.A.D.’s impact. Talking and interacting with other human beings is vital for our mental health.

In the fall and winter months, seniors can make an effort to increase their social interactions while staying safe. There are many ways to do this, including joining a zoom social club, contributing to online forums, asking family members to stop by, or talking to neighbors from a safe distance.

Another seasonal disorder companionship that many people forget about is hired caregivers.  Hiring a professional caregiver provides seniors with the option to remain living independently in the comfort of their own homes, while receiving the care and additional companionship they need.. . At Nurse Next Door, we match seniors with their perfect caregiver fit, and we place an emphasis on continuity of care so that the client and caregiver can establish a fulfilling relationship..  During the dark, gloomy days of the fall and winter months, a Nurse Next Door caregiver showing up at your doorstep will feel like a ray of sunshine.

Counseling

Seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression, so it should not be ignored or dismissed as a trivial condition. If left untreated (as mentioned above), the symptoms can be severe, including suicidal thoughts or actions. Counseling is an excellent way to treat S.A.D proactively. A mental health professional can offer insights into what triggers your S.A.D, coping mechanisms, and possibly prescribe medication (if needed). Just talking things over with someone can make a big difference when it comes to feeling the effects of isolation and loneliness. 

Join a Club

In almost any community, seniors have options to join clubs in their local recreational centers, libraries, or retirement communities. While in-person events aren’t happening at the moment, look for a  club for an activity or hobby that you enjoy or want to learn, and see if there are any virtual meet-ups. This will keep you busy, allow you to have fun, and help you make new friends in the winter.

If the internet seems challenging, a family member can show you how to join and access an online club of your choosing.

Nurse Next Door

Nurse Next Door offers a revolutionary approach to homecare services. We provide a full range of services, but it’s our Happier Aging philosophy that really sets us apart. When we first meet a new client, we ask them “what did you used to love doing that you no longer do?” We then use their answer to reconnect them with their interests, hobbies and passions by infusing aspects of each into every visit. Bringing happiness to our clients is our number one priority regardless of the season, but providing additional companionship and care during the more isolating colder months can give families the peace of mind that comes with knowing their loved one is happy and fulfilled while at home.

 

With Nurse Next Door, seniors can maintain their independence and remain in their homes while still getting the assistance they need. To learn  more about what we do, visit www.nursenextdoor.com.

 

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