Tips For Handling the Winter Blues
While some seniors may think that the winter blues are just an old wives’ tale, they are actually very real and very serious. During the winter months, it is not uncommon to feel sad, depressed or upset. This is an actual condition called seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, and it is very common. Unfortunately, it is even more prevalent among seniors. If your senior loved one has been sad, lethargic, angry, unwilling to get out of bad or not eating, then they may be dealing with seasonal affective disorder. Here are a few ways that you can help them beat the winter blues and make the most of this season.
- Help them get some natural sunlight. Even if this is just sitting on the deck or sitting near an open window when it is sunny out. Some natural sunlight can go a long way. If you aren’t in an area where sunlight is plentiful in the winter, then there are artificial light therapies that can have a similar effect. Many studies have found this therapy is just as effective as an antidepressant.
- Help seniors manage their diet. There are a number of studies that have found the correlation between diet and SAD. However, while many people want to reach for a sugary sweet when they are feeling low, it can actually decrease depression symptoms over time, even if it gives a feeling of joy at the moment. A healthy diet and having healthy snacks around can go a long way for any senior.
- Encourage seniors to spend more time with their loved ones. Nothing can lift a senior’s spirit quite like spending quality time with those that they love the most. This is especially true for seniors who may be receiving in-home care or spending a great deal of time alone in their homes.
- Exercise, exercise, exercise. One of the many reasons seniors tend to suffer from SAD more in the winter is because they aren’t getting up and getting active when cold weather hits. The more exercise a senior can do, the better off they are going to be. Regular exercise, even just stretching or walking can go a long way in helping seniors release endorphins and feel happier and healthier.
- Don’t be ashamed to visit a doctor. There are many seniors who are hesitant to visit a doctor when they are experiencing the signs and symptoms of SAD. A lot of seniors feel embarrassed about needing professional help because they don’t understand why they are feeling sad. No senior should ever feel like they can’t ask for help when they need it.
If your loved one is showing signs of seasonal affective disorder then little things like this can go a long way in helping them overcome this condition and find the peace and happiness that they deserve. While every senior is different, these are some of the most proven and most effective treatments for helping any senior handle issues with depression or SAD this winter.
- Kimberly Langdon M.D. is a retired, board-certified obstetrician/gynecologist with 19-years of clinical experience. She graduated from The Ohio State University College of Medicine earning Honors in many rotations. She then completed her OB/GYN residency program at The Ohio State University Medical Center, earning first-place for her senior research project and placed in the 98th percentile on the national exam for OB/GYN residents in the U.S..
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