December 11, 2023

 An older man shows signs of seasonal affective disorder as he solemnly looks out the window of his home.

Nurture well-being this holiday season by learning to recognize signs of seasonal affective disorder in seniors and provide the support they need for a joyful holiday.

The holiday season is typically a joyous time filled with warmth, festivities, and the company of loved ones. However, for some individuals, especially seniors, this time of year can trigger feelings of loneliness and sadness. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), often dismissed as the winter blues, is a form of clinical depression that tends to strike during fall and winter when daylight hours are shorter.

Seniors in particular, may find themselves grappling with the weight of past memories, especially those of cherished holidays spent with loved ones who are no longer present. These feelings of loss and nostalgia can manifest into a deep sense of sadness, making it crucial for family members to be vigilant for signs of seasonal affective disorder and depression when gathering together during the holidays.

As you come together with your aging loved ones this season, pay attention to the following common signs of depression:

  • Oversleeping: Keep an eye out for excessive sleeping or a noticeable change in sleep patterns.
  • Extreme Fatigue or Sluggishness: If your senior family member appears unusually tired or lacks energy, it could be a red flag.
  • Lack of Interest in Normally Pleasurable Activities: A diminished interest in activities that once brought joy may indicate a shift in mental well-being.
  • Increased Appetite, Overeating: Changes in eating habits, particularly overeating, may signal emotional distress.
  • Suicidal Thoughts during More Severe Episodes: In severe cases, individuals may experience thoughts of self-harm. This is a critical sign that professional help is needed immediately.

While watching for signs of SAD and depression, be attuned to additional indicators that may suggest a need for assistance. Consider the following warning signs:

  • Weight Loss: Noticeable changes in weight, especially significant weight loss, could be indicative of underlying issues.
  • Appearance: Unexpected changes in the general appearance of a senior may signal a decline in mental or physical health.
  • Household Upkeep: Any drastic changes in the way the home is maintained may provide clues to the senior’s well-being.
  • General Behavior: Keep an eye on behavioral changes such as increased agitation, forgetfulness, or difficulties with mobility.

Should you observe any of these warning signs, it is imperative to reach out to the individual’s physician promptly. Recognizing these signals early on allows for timely intervention and support. In instances where a loved one exhibits signs of seasonal affective disorder, it might be an appropriate time to consider in-home care assistance.

Connect with Continuum in St. Louis, Ladue, Kirkwood, and nearby regions  online or call us at (314) 863-9912 or (636) 861-3336 for compassionate and professional caregiving services. Our dedicated caregivers are equipped to provide the support and assistance your family needs during challenging times. Don’t hesitate to take proactive steps to ensure the well-being of your senior loved ones this holiday season.