Tips For Seniors Dealing With the Winter Blues
The winter blues aren’t just an old wives’ tale, they are a very real and very serious condition that impacts many adults today, especially seniors. The winter blues, also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), can actually occur when the seasons start to change. If you notice your loved one sleeping more, showing signs of sadness or mood swings, not wanting to leave the house or losing interest in their favorite hobbies this winter, they may be suffering from SAD. With winter fast approaching, it is more important than ever for caregivers to be aware of the signs of SAD and for ways to help seniors overcome seasonal depression.
- Help your loved one get out of the house. One of the many reasons seniors are more prone to SAD is because they feel isolated and alone when they spend most of their time indoors.
- Don’t downplay your loved one’s mood. Ridiculing your loved one for feeling sad during this time of year can only make things worse.
- Try to help your loved one stay on a set schedule. The changing of the seasons can actually disrupt the body’s sleep-wake cycles. The more regimen a senior’s schedule is, the easier it will be for them to fall asleep and wake up as normal.
- Consider either real or artificial light. One of the main ways to treat SAD is with light therapy. You can actually purchase a lightbox that will mimic the sun and help seniors get the light exposure they need. You can also have your senior near a window in the sun during the day to help.
- Exercise is also a powerful way to combat SAD. Simple walks can go a long way in helping seniors overcome the stress and anxiety that typically accompany this time of year. If your loved one isn’t particularly mobile, consider massage. As long as their muscles are moving, it will help with their SAD symptoms.
- Seniors need social contact at all times, especially during the winter. Plan for visitors to come in and see your senior daily so they have interactions with others.
- The right diet can actually help with all types of depression. Make sure your loved one is eating a healthy, balanced diet and that they are avoiding sugar and alcohol as much as possible.
- It can be easy for seniors to get down on themselves and no longer take care of their appearance, which can only make SAD worse. Help your loved one with their hair, makeup, clothing, and other personal hygiene issues so they can always look and feel their best.
Keep these tips in mind if you are helping to look after your senior loved one. Elderly adults are particularly prone to SAD, and the more you can do as their loved one to help them through this difficult time, the better. If you fear as though your loved one’s seasonal depression is getting worse and they may need professional help, consult your loved one’s doctor right away for further assistance.
- 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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