There are many things we do to prepare for winter. We pull out hats, mittens and thick wool sweaters. We make sure our homes are heated efficiently, stock up on salt for the sidewalks and those with chimneys start their pile of logs for the cold winter nights.
The Winter Blues
Healthcare professionals are finding there is another worry that comes with Jack Frost. Studies have shown that four to six percent of Americans face Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), otherwise known as “the winter blues.”
As winter sets in and daylight slips aways sooner, people tend to feel sadness more often. Healthcare professionals are urging individuals to take these feelings more seriously because winter depression has been recognized as a form of clinical depression.
Your Senior Loved One Is At Risk
For Family Caregivers, it is especially important to become knowledgeable about the symptoms and treatment of SAD because such depression in senior individuals can lead to even more serious conditions. According to the Centers for Disease Control, older adults are at an increased risk for suicide compared to others with depression. The CDC also reports that men over the age of 85 are six times more likely to commit suicide over other populations.
Sadly, only ten percent of individuals facing depression undergo therapy, as reported by the National Institute of Mental Health.
Symptoms Of Seasonal Affective Disorder
As a Family Caregiver, how can you help fend off Seasonal Affective Disorder for your loved one?
Watch for symptoms such as these:
- Exhibiting other common symptoms associated with depression such as chronic sadness, anxiety, social withdrawal, loss of interest in favored activities.
- Change in eating habits such as overeating, weight gain or craving for carbohydrates.
- Lack of energy.
- Exhaustion or oversleeping.
What You Can Do To Help
What can you do to lessen the chances of your loved one experiencing winter depression?
- Increase exposure to sunlight as much as possible by opening curtains and seating your loved one by a window.
- If safety permits, spend some time outdoors. As long as the sidewalks are clear of snow or ice, a short walk and fresh air is beneficial.
- Make sure your loved one is eating a healthy, balanced diet with plenty of vitamins. Avoid a diet high in sugar and starch.
- Incorporate some form of physical activity when possible. Consider arm exercises or short walks.
- Spend time participating in hobbies such as board games or knitting and help your loved one be involved in social events if possible.
- Help your loved one stay involved with hobbies, church and social activities and friends to prevent feelings of isolation that winter can bring.
Family Caregivers are not alone in their role of providing services and companionship for their loved ones who live at home. Freudenthal Home Health provides assistance in everything from snow removal to physical therapy to fun companionship. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help.