Seasonal Affective Disorder in Older Adults: What to Look for and How to Help

Senior suffering from seasonal depression disorder
Know the signs of Seasonal Affective Disorder in older adults.
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The change from long summer days to shorter ones can occasionally affect how we feel. And while many of us find the holiday season to be a joyful time, reduced daylight may bring on darker feelings as well. These changes can even result in a form of seasonal depression referred to as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). During the late fall and winter months, be on the lookout for any signs of depression that may be apparent in older loved ones. According to the Mayo Clinic, seasonal affective disorder occurs more frequently in women than in men, but men’s symptoms are often more serious.

Rather than dismissing these signs as the winter blues, it’s important to note that SAD can cause older adults to sink into depression, experience a reduced energy level and increased moodiness.

When gathering with family this holiday season, watch for these signs:

  • Sleeping a lot (or too little)
  • Disinterest in activities that are typically enjoyed
  • Unusually high fatigue
  • Eating too much
  • Suicidal thoughts and/or comments

Additionally, look for these warning signs as well:

  • Appearance: Has the older adult’s overall appearance changed in any way?
  • Weight Loss: Does the individual look like noticeably thinner?
  • Home environment: Is your loved one’s home being well maintained? Any significant changes in how things are managed throughout the home could indicate a health concern.
  • Behavior/Mood: Are there any apparent behavioral changes? Does the older adult appear to be forgetful or agitated? Is he/she capable of moving around the home easily or is assistance needed? These types of changes may indicate that care is needed in the home.

In the event that you pick up on any of these signs, contact the older adult’s doctor, and begin to consider a plan of care to help. Along with seasonal depression, aging adults who are suffering from arthritis might also feel an increase in pain due to less frequent physical activity, according to a study from Northwestern Medicine. To reduce pain levels, federal guidelines suggest that older adults with arthritis engage in walking and other low-impact physical activities.

When an older adult you love begins to display these or other warning signs, it might be an ideal time for you to consider professional in-home care. Lend a Hand Home Care’s senior care team is trained and experienced in helping older adults with seasonal depression and can create a personalized plan of care to help keep older adults safe and thriving in their homes. Reach out to us at 775-322-8414 to learn more about our home care in Verdi and nearby areas and to set up a complimentary in-home consultation.