Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is sometimes called “the winter blues” because it usually occurs during the fall and winter months. SAD is a kind of depression that usually comes on in the fall and lasts into the winter months. It is believed to be brought on by the reduction of exposure to sunlight due to the shortened days. For family caregivers of senior adults with SAD, the winter months can be particularly difficult.
SAD vs. Major Depression
Although SAD is a kind of depression, it differs from major depression in a few ways. For one, people with SAD are less likely to have thoughts about committing suicide than are people with depression. This is because they know that their feelings will change with the season, and there are better days coming.
Another difference between SAD and major depression has to do with eating and sleeping patterns. People with SAD tend to sleep too much. They also tend to eat more, which may cause weight gain during the winter. People who are depressed usually have trouble sleeping. They also often experience a lack of appetite, so they eat less.
Tips for Managing SAD
If you suspect your aging relative has SAD, they should see a doctor. Some of the treatments available for SAD are:
Light Therapy: The person with SAD will sit near a light box shortly after waking up every day. The light simulates sunlight and helps boost mood. This therapy is done at home, but you should talk to the doctor about which kind of light box will work best for the older adult.
Medication: The doctor may recommend the use of antidepressants if the symptoms are severe.
Psychotherapy: It can be useful for people with SAD to see a therapist to help them cope with the disorder.
In addition to following the doctor’s advice, there are several things that can be done at home, such as:
Sunny Rooms: Help the older adult to keep the house brighter and sunnier by opening blinds, trimming trees that block sunlight, and adding skylights to rooms. A senior care provider can help with this by opening blinds when they visit the home. They can also encourage sitting near sunny windows.
Exercise: Physical activity helps reduce stress. Senior care providers can go for walks with older people, making sure they don’t fall and making the walk more enjoyable.
Go Outside: Getting more exposure to the sun can make a difference for people with SAD. On sunny days, seniors should try to sit outside for a bit, even when it’s cold. A senior care provider can help by making sure they are dressed for warmth, bringing them a hot drink to enjoy while they sit, and keeping them company.
Having SAD can make the winter months hard for older adults, but having family caregivers and senior care providers they can rely on may make things easier. Just knowing that someone will be stopping by to spend some time with them may lift their spirits.
If you or an aging loved one are in need of Senior Care Services in Stonybrook NY or the surrounding areas, contact the caring professionals at Star Multi Care Services today at (631)956-8835. We are the Right Choice for Home Health Care Services!
From 1978 to 1986, Sternbach was associated with Automated Data Processing, Inc. (“ADP”)–a provider of information services, where he held several marketing positions before becoming the Director of Sales.
1999-2008 Sternbach was an active participant on the Board of Directors for Proginet–a computer software company based in Garden City, New York. He also served on the Board of Trustees of the Long Island Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society from 1996-2002.
In 1996, Stephen Sternbach was named “Entrepreneur of the Year” by Ernst & Young, Paine Webber and NASDAQ. Sternbach was also named in Crain’s New York Business Article, “40 Under 40” Successful Business Executives/Future Business Leaders in 1995. While maintaining a diversity of business and personal interests, Sternbach concentrated most of his efforts over the past 28 years towards continuously improving the quality of services delivered by the Star Multi Care Services’ family of companies.
Stephen Sternbach holds a Master of Public Administration from Syracuse University – Maxwell School of Public Administration and a Bachelor of Arts in Industrial Relations and Personnel Administration from Ithaca College.
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