The New Year has rolled in, resolutions set, and the holiday lights are ready to hibernate for another year. It’s that time when Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) makes its yearly appearance among young and old alike, in parts due to gloomy weather, and due to a marked decrease in social gatherings, especially after a hectic holiday get-together.
According to WHO, an estimated 350 million people of all age groups worldwide are affected by depression. Seniors are especially vulnerable to isolation-induced post-holiday blues.
It can be tough to watch an aged loved one struggle to cope with day-to-day living. Here are five ways you can help a senior family member overcome seasonal depression.
1. Create a Virtual Get-Together Schedule
With increasing covid cases, in-person meet-ups may not be advisable at this time. But that shouldn’t put a spanner in your loved one’s social calendar. Teach them to create and share zoom or google meet invitations with their friends. Get on a video call with them at least once a day at a pre-decided time. Help them participate in virtual fitness workshops or webinars for seniors.
2. Get on a Healthy, Mood-Enhancing Diet
When you feel low, it is easy to reach out for sugary or fried comfort food for that quick dopamine kick. However, this isn’t a sustainable or healthy diet to follow. If you grocery shop for your loved one, ensure to include rainbow-colored, anti-inflammatory fresh fruits and vegetables, mood and heart health-enhancing nuts, seeds, grains, and occasional meat including seafood, eggs, and poultry.
Studies indicate that a healthy diet of fresh produce and lean proteins have mood-enhancing capabilities.
3. Stick to a Regular Sleep Schedule
Lack of sleep can aggravate irritability, annoyance, and depression. It is essential to regulate the sleep cycle by following the circadian rhythm.
A healthy circadian rhythm in adults involves a consistent bedtime and wake time, with about 7-8 hours of restful sleep every night. If your loved one has trouble falling asleep at night or has an irregular or broken sleep cycle, speak to their physician on ways to create a healthy sleep schedule or on the use of sleep medications.
4. Get the Heart Pumping
Studies have shown that partaking in regular, gentle exercises such as walking, climbing stairs, stretching, etc., can help the elderly stay physically and mentally active and improve their general feeling of well-being and happiness.
Encourage your loved one to visit the local fitness group for seniors for their daily or weekly dose of physical activity or help them join in virtual fitness classes for seniors conducted by local wellness centers.
5. Get Professional Help
If you have loved ones who live independently, it might be a good idea to recruit a professional home care help service. They can assist with daily chores such as meal prepping, shopping, accompanying them on doctor visits, medication reminders, grooming, and companionship.
Knowing that your loved one is in trusted care can offer you peace of mind and help the seniors to cultivate a network of support outside immediate family members.
At Affinity, we specialize in 24-hour senior care. Our caregivers can assist with daily tasks such as mobility, medication reminders, eating (including meal prep), exercising, and personal care (grooming and bathing). If you are looking for additional support to meet the changing needs of your family member, please reach out to us at: www.affinityseniorcare.com or call Affinity at 248-363-8430.