Many of us feel a bit more sluggish during the shorter days of winter, and older adults are no exception. One possible cause is seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which can mimic depression and other mental health conditions, but can also be effectively treated once accurately diagnosed.

Symptoms of SAD can vary widely, and may include low energy, loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities, feelings of hopelessness, sleeping problems, weight gain, and difficulty concentrating. If you notice these or other concerning signs in an older adult, the first step is to schedule an appointment with the physician, who can diagnose or rule out seasonal affective disorder. If SAD is indeed affecting the senior, treatment options can include light therapy, psychotherapy/counseling, antidepressants or other medications, such as alternative herbal remedies.

Additionally, help may be obtained from relaxation exercises such as meditation, yoga, music, or art therapy. The home environment can also be modified to provide some relief. Try keeping blinds open to allow maximum sunlight into the home, and positioning frequently used pieces of furniture (such as a favorite chair or sofa) in a sunlit spot. Also, as much as possible, ensure that the senior spends time outdoors, particularly in the morning hours.

It’s important for those with SAD to follow the doctor’s recommended treatment plan, to ensure they are getting the right amount of sleep (neither too much nor too little), exercising, and maintaining a balanced diet. Remaining socially active is also key. If possible, planning a trip to a warm, sunny destination with family or friends can be beneficial as well.

The in-home senior care team at THE MEDICAL TEAM can also help improve quality of life for older adults with seasonal affective disorder. Our companion care staff are skilled in providing friendly encouragement to remain active, to engage in appropriate and approved exercise programs, to prepare healthy, nutritious meals, and to ensure medications are taken exactly as they are prescribed, leading to maximum health and wellbeing.

With home health services available in New Orleans, Detroit, Austin, Dallas and the metro DC area, we invite you to contact us to learn more about how THE MEDICAL TEAM can help seniors discover an enhanced quality of life.