Winter poses a threat to people of all ages, but it can especially affect seniors. During the colder months, seniors are more at risk of physical health threats such a slipping on ice, hypothermia, and joint problems – just to name a few.

seasonal affective disorder in seniors

However, what’s less commonly known as a winter health risk for seniors is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Luckily, this can be easily treated with the right practices.

Common Symptoms

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a form of depression. Although it can affect anyone, SAD is more prevalent in older adults and people who live far from the equator. Some of the symptoms related to the disorder include:

  • Loss of energy
  • Changes in appetite
  • Change in sleeping habits
  • Irritability
  • Loss of interest in socializing

The main difference between SAD and general depression is that SAD is only prevalent during certain times of the year, most commonly during the winter. Due to the decrease in daylight, a person’s body goes through hormonal and circadian changes which lead to the common symptoms of SAD. These symptoms can become worse if preventative actions are not taken.

How to Care for a Loved One with SAD

Like many forms of depression, your doctor can prescribe antidepressants to combat the symptoms of SAD. However, there are many other non-pharmaceutical options for treating the disorder:

Light therapy- This is a form of therapy that uses a “lightbox” to emit artificial sunlight. This lightbox usually doesn’t damage a person’s eyes or skin because of a protective filter inside the box. A doctor may instruct your loved one to sit near the lightbox for about 30 to 45 minutes daily to improve symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Make an effort to get them outside- Although it may be extremely hard at times to go outside during the colder months, it can be very beneficial for seniors. Getting out in the sunlight helps seniors get the necessary vitamin D that they need to stay healthy and combat symptoms of SAD.

Modify their diet- During the winter months, make sure your loved one is getting additional vitamin D in their diet. Foods like salmon, egg yolks, beef liver, and cheeses are great for supplying sufficient amounts of vitamin D without posing as a risk to your senior’s health.

Compassionate Care in Laurel, MD

If your loved one has experienced symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder and you want to ensure they get the personalized and compassionate care they need, Kenwood Care is here for you. Our caregivers understand the risks that winter poses and are here to make your aging loved one feel as comfortable as they possibly can be. Contact us today to schedule a tour of any of our four assisted living residences in Howard County, MD!

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