Some elders suffer from a condition called seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which is linked to seasonal changes. It tends to occur around the same time each year and may manifest symptoms such as crankiness and an overall drop in energy. Below are some recommendations for managing it.
What is SAD?
SAD is a form of seasonal depression but is not always clinical in nature. While it can occur at any time of the year, it is most common during fall and winter when the weather becomes dreary, cold and rainy in some places. Those with SAD may show disinterest in activities that they normally enjoy, alterations in their sleeping or eating habits as well as anxiety, exhaustion, feelings of despair, and hypersensitivity.
Some Tips to Manage SAD
- Travel south during the winter
If you have the time and money, heading south for the winter can be the perfect solution. Florida and the Gulf Coast are outstanding destinations for those that live in the Northeast, while Southern California is ideal for those that live in the Northwest. Sunlight provides vitamin D, which is a crucial mineral for those of every age. It assists the body in calcium absorption which aids the bone. You can also take a Caribbean vacation where you’ll get maximum sun exposure.
- Herbal remedies
Many doctors will automatically recommend antidepressants for SAD, but think twice before using them. Many of these medications have unpleasant side effects and is habit-forming. If you or your loved one is unable to travel south for the winter, the next best thing is herbal remedies such as essential oils.
Lavender oil in particular is all natural and extremely powerful. It can alleviate depression when used, due to its ability to activate centralized oxytocin neurons. Other essential oils that provide similar benefits include jasmine, bergamot, and vetiver. These oils provide all the benefits of antidepressants with none of the side effects, you just have to learn how to prepare and administer them.
For elders who are bedridden or unable to travel to a region with a sunny climate, another alternative is phototherapy, which is also known as light treatment. This technique involves using artificial light to simulate the sun. However, the old-fashioned fluorescent bulbs used in traditional lighting fixtures are not ideal. Instead, you want to use light-emitting diodes because they are cost-effective, do not use a lot of energy, and are much cooler than fluorescent bulbs.
Exposure to artificial illumination will prompt the body to begin generating molecules like serotonin. Your melatonin levels will also be lowered, which is a good thing. Another benefit of light treatment is that it will aid elders in regulating their sleeping cycles and improve their sleep overall.
Sometimes depression can be relieved by simply talking to someone. Many who are 65 years of age and older suffer from loneliness because their spouse or friends have passed away. Spending too much time alone, especially for those who are naturally extroverted, can contribute to depression, but talking with a therapist can help a great deal, especially when they are objective and not judgmental.