Each of us has a favorite season. Some of us look forward to the spring and summer while others like the shorter, cozier days of fall and winter. However, the changing of the clocks and shorter days with less sunlight can trigger physical and emotional problems for some people.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression related to the changes in the seasons that makes sufferers feel less energetic and moodier. It tends to affect older people in northern climates. Caregivers need to watch for the signs and symptoms of Seasonal affective disorder in senior loved ones because it can cause them to become isolated that can negatively affect physical health. Geriatric care managers can provide practical suggestions to help those who may be suffering from Seasonal affective disorder.
Seasonal affective disorder is a real type of depression that needs to be taken seriously.
If you are caring for a senior loved one who says they suffer from the “winter blues” you may want to investigate further, especially if the symptoms continue to worsen as the season progresses. Symptoms of SAD can include:
- Complaints of not enough energy to enjoy the day.
- Sleeping more than usual.
- Extremely sensitive to rejection by others, people saying “no”.
- Changes in appetite and craving carbohydrates.
- Changes in personality, such as problems getting along with other people.
SAD is diagnosed more often in women than in men and more often in older adults. Other risk factors for SAD include:
- A blood relative who has SAD.
- Having clinical depression or bipolar disorder.
- Living in northern climates with less sunshine during the day.
With the goal of helping a senior suffering from SAD feel better, and less debilitated by the condition, a geriatric care manager can help get the right professional in place to make the diagnosis and ensure the appropriate treatment is initiated. Here are three ways a geriatric care manager can be the family’s eyes and ears when a family may not live nearby.
Seasonal affective disorder can be successfully treated by the following therapies.
Light therapy: Lightboxes replace the sunshine that is lost during the winter months. There are various types of light boxes and only certain ones work well. A geriatric care manager can help you to determine the right light and strength that will effectively treat your loved one. Typically light boxes include fluorescent light in a measurement called 10,000 lux that is about 20 times the amount of regular indoor lighting.
Psychotherapy: A specific type of psychotherapy called cognitive behavioral therapy(CBT) may be effective for seasonal affective disorder. It helps the sufferer to change their behavior by replacing negative thoughts with positive ones. This type of therapy will help the person to learn things that can bring positive actions to the shorter days, such as meeting friends in the evening or learning new hobbies to get through the longer winter days.
Vitamin D: The clinical research is mixed on the effectiveness of Vitamin D; however, some studies have shown that it may help to replace the vitamin D that is lost when the sun goes down early every day.
If you are caring for a senior loved one with SAD, you can rely on a geriatric care manager to suggest the most effective plan that addresses this condition. He or she will guide you and your loved one to get a diagnosis and an effective treatment plan. The geriatric care manager can provide ongoing oversight to ensure that your loved one receives the appropriate care to treat SAD.