We’ve enjoyed a great summer here in the UK and now that the evenings are slowly drawing in, spare a thought to those people who are severely affected by S.A.D (Seasonal Affective Disorder). Sometimes known as ‘winter depression’, this can affect people of all ages but is particularly likely to concern the elderly or anyone unable to get out of the house on a daily basis.
Natural daylight is more beneficial for the body rhythms that indoor lighting and ideally we should spend at least a few minutes a day outside, even in cloudy weather. However, for many this is not an option and many may have to rely on others to take them out to receive fresh air.
G. Allen Power (MD, Geriatrician, Author and Dementia Care Specialist) states that ‘SAD is recognized as a subtype of major depressive disorder that shares the same symptoms as major depression, which may include sadness, loss of interest or pleasure, changes in sleep or appetite, feelings of worthlessness and weight loss’.
People living with advanced dementia may not be able to communicate these feelings of sadness and irritability to carers, thus it may be just assumed to be part of the disease symptoms.
But there are a number of ways that can help:
Light Box Therapy
Special ‘SAD’ lamps are available in many retailers and costs are not too high. These provide full-spectrum light (harmful UV rays are filtered out) that mimic sunshine. Daily exposure to these bright lights at the early sign of symptoms for just a few minutes can really help. Supervision may be needed for anyone with a dementia to avoid over-exposure but otherwise, it is just a case of plug it in face it while eating breakfast etc.
Melatonin can help with regulating mood and Omega-3 fatty acid can aid depression. Try to get elderly people eating a diet rich in fish and dairy products to ensure they get plenty of vitamin D (otherwise known as the sunshine vitamin). Green leafy vegetables and citrus fruit rich in vitamin C helps with absorption of iron, which will assist with energy levels and boost their immunity system.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
This therapy often involves working with a therapist to identify negative feelings and learn coping techniques to help manage moodiness, recognizing causes and effects. They may often use activities that distract and engage their mind in a pleasurable way throughout the worst times.
Are you someone who is affected by S.A.D. Check out our fun puzzles, music and games to keep minds active and hands busy this coming winter.