Navigating Holiday Blues: A Guide to Supporting Seniors Facing Seasonal Affective Disorder

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An elderly man looks out the window with a sad expression on his face. Seniors facing seasonal affective disorder need extra support this time of year.

Learn how to best support seniors facing seasonal affective disorder with our expert tips.

The holiday season is often regarded as a time of joy and togetherness, but for some, the colder months bring more than just festive cheer. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a form of clinical depression, can cast a shadow over the holidays, especially affecting seniors who may find themselves reminiscing about past celebrations with loved ones who are no longer present.

While many may dismiss SAD as the “winter blues,” it’s crucial to recognize the signs, particularly when spending time with family during the holidays. When it comes to seniors facing seasonal affective disorder, being aware of the following indicators can make a significant difference:

  • Oversleeping: If your loved one is sleeping more than usual, it might be a sign of SAD. Changes in sleep patterns can be indicative of underlying emotional struggles.
  • Extreme Fatigue or Sluggishness: Feeling persistently tired or sluggish can be a symptom of depression. Keep an eye out for signs of low energy and motivation.
  • Lack of Interest in Normally Pleasurable Activities: If your senior family member suddenly loses interest in activities they usually enjoy, it could be a red flag for depression.
  • Increased Appetite, Overeating: Changes in eating habits, particularly an increase in appetite or overeating, can be linked to emotional distress.
  • Suicidal Thoughts During More Severe Episodes: In severe cases, depression may lead to suicidal thoughts. If your loved one expresses such feelings, it’s crucial to seek professional help immediately.

In addition to these signs directly related to SAD, there are other warning signs that may indicate a need for assistance for your older loved one during the holiday season:

  • Weight Loss: Significant weight loss can be a cause for concern and may suggest a decline in overall health.
  • Changes in Appearance: Unexpected changes in a senior’s general appearance may be indicative of underlying health issues or emotional distress.
  • Household Upkeep: Keep an eye on the condition of your loved one’s home. Drastic changes in how they maintain their living space could signal a need for support.
  • General Behavior Changes: Noticeable changes in behavior, such as increased agitation or forgetfulness, may suggest that the senior requires additional care.
  • Mobility Issues: Difficulty moving around or an increased need for assistance with mobility may point to a decline in physical health.

If you observe any of these signs, it’s crucial to reach out to the person’s physician promptly. Recognizing the need for help is the first step in ensuring the well-being of your older loved ones. When these warning signs emerge, it may be time to consider in-home care assistance. Contact San Diego Home Caregivers in La Jolla, San Diego, Point Loma, or the surrounding areas, online or at (619) 487-9000 where our caregivers are prepared to support your family during the holiday season and beyond.