The change of seasons can sometimes bring on a change in mood. And though for most, the holidays are a cheerful time—new, colder seasons can bring on darker days as well. The low light of fall and winter can encourage a type of clinical depression known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). At this time of year, even in Texas, the hours of daylight begin to fade, so be on the lookout for signs of depression in the older men and women in your life. According to the Mayo Clinic, SAD is diagnosed more often in women than in men, but men may have more severe symptoms.
Often dismissed as the winter blues, SAD can cause seniors to experience depression, decreased energy and increased moodiness.
When gathering together with the family during the holidays, be on the lookout for these common signs of depression:
- Extreme fatigue or sluggishness
- Lack of interest in normally pleasurable activities
- Increased appetite, overeating
- Suicidal thoughts during more severe episodes
While looking for warning signs of SAD and depression, be on the lookout for these other red flags as well:
- Weight Loss: Does the senior seem noticeably thinner?
- Appearance: Has the senior’s general appearance changed in unexpected ways?
- Household Upkeep: Is the senior’s home generally well cared for? Any big changes in the way things are done around the house could provide clues to health.
- General Behavior: Do you notice any behavioral changes in the senior? Does he or she seem agitated and/or forgetful? Is the senior still able to move around easily or does he or she seem to require more assistance from others with mobility? These kinds of behavior changes could be signs that care is needed at home.
If you notice any of these signs, contact the person’s physician, and start to discuss a plan of care. Besides SAD, seniors with arthritis may also experience more pain due to less physical activity, according to a Northwestern Medicine study. To combat this, federal guidelines recommend low-impact physical activity, such as walking.
When a loved one begins to display any kind of warning signs, it may be time to consider in-home care assistance. Heaven at Home Dallas area caregivers are specially trained in helping those with signs of depression and will work with each person’s family to create an individualized care plan to maximize safety and independence. Contact us any time in the Dallas area to let us know how we can help.