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Seasonal Affective Disorder in Seniors with Alzheimer’s

Friday, December 22nd, 2017 6:39:59 PM
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Activities, socialization, and resources from Alzheimer’s facilities can help seniors combat seasonal depression in Wichita, KS

The winter months bring about many new health concerns for seniors with Alzheimer’s, their families and caregivers. Perhaps a few that come to mind for you are fall risks, hypothermia, pneumonia, or the flu. A concern that many of us overlook is seasonal affective disorder (SAD). In this article, we’ll explore the signs and symptoms of SAD and suggest some treatments and activities from Alzheimer’s facilities.

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that is brought on by lack of sunlight during shorter winter days, lack of vitamin D, and disrupted sleep patterns. [Source] Many seniors with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia are at risk of developing depression because of the on-going changes in their brains’ chemistries. SAD is a particular type depression and can present itself in seniors who are not diagnosed with clinical depression.

Signs & Symptoms

Family members and caregivers should be on the lookout for the indicators of SAD in their senior loved ones during the winter months. Feeling a bit blue during the winter months is a normal response to the end of the holiday season and darker winter days. However, if the following symptoms persist for more than a couple weeks, you should contact specialists at Alzheimer’s facilities or medical centers.

  • Depressed or irritable mood
  • Expressions of helplessness
  • Loss of interest in daily activities
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fatigue or trouble sleeping

Recognizing the signs of depression in someone with dementia can be incredibly challenging. It is always best to report any concerns you may have to an Alzheimer’s professional right away.

Want to know more about depression and Alzheimer’s? Read our article: Differentiating Depression from Dementia

How Alzheimer’s Facilities Can Help

Mood changes, winter blues, and SAD can often be treated by lifestyle changes. Always talk with a doctor to receive an official diagnosis and treatment plan.

For seniors with Alzheimer’s disease, mood changes and irritability can be confronted through activities, distractions, or a change of scenery. Alzheimer’s facilities in Wichita, KS, can provide family members with the resources and support they need to care for loved ones who have Alzheimer’s and depression such as seasonal affective disorder. Many Alzheimer’s facilities offer adult day care programs that occupy seniors for a few hours each day. This change of scenery can help lift your loved one’s mood.

Other ways to combat the winter blues include light exercise, eating a nutritious diet, and increasing intake of Vitamin D. The National Institutes for Health has identified elderly people as an at-risk group for vitamin D deficiency. Research shows that vitamin D plays an increasingly important role in physical and mental health. [Source] Talk to your loved one’s doctor before making any major dietary changes or introducing new medications into their regime.

Recognizing the signs of seasonal affective disorder and knowing how to make meaningful changes in your loved one’s daily routine can help you both keep your spirits up during the winter months. Many people notice changes in their loved ones over the holidays. If you think you’re senior loved one could benefit from specialized Alzheimer’s care, consider ComfortCare Homes in Wichita, KS. We provide residential memory care services for seniors in Wichita, KS, and the surrounding areas.

More Resources:

Holiday Blues – Depression among the Elderly

Season Affective Disorder (SAD) and Treatment Options

For more information about memory care services provided by Comfort Care Homes, please call our office at (316) 444-0532 or visit our website: http://comfortcarehomeswichita.com/


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- Ron Spangenberg



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