The days are getting shorter, and especially in non-tropical climates, the sun isn’t making regular appearances now that fall has officially begun. Thus, caregivers of seniors (whether at home, in assisted living, or in other care settings) should be aware of SAD’s warning signs and know how to alleviate the symptoms before they get out of control.
What is SAD? Seasonal affective disorder is “a syndrome characterized by recurrent depressions that occur annually at the same time each year – it could be any season, but winter is the most researched and common season”, per Dr. Norman E. Rosenthal in this Strength for Caring piece.
Most often, the lack of natural sun exposure provokes SAD. Dr. Rosenthal offers the following warning signs: lethargy, mood swings, problems with sleeping, depression, marked decrease in productivity, social withdrawal, and fluctuations in eating patterns, among others.
Family and professional caregivers alike should consult a healthcare professional when they suspect a senior is suffering from SAD, says Rosenthal. In addition, you can increase the amount of natural and artificial light in the senior’s surroundings: open the blinds and curtains, turn on more lamps, and clear away anything that may be obstructing windows on the outside world.