Can Seasonal Depression Worsen or Complicate Alzheimer's?
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Can Seasonal Depression Worsen or Complicate Alzheimer's?

A seasonal change that brings rainy days, dark skies, and gloomy weather is more likely to dampen the mood of everyone, even the healthy ones. For the elderly who have Alzheimer's, these winter months might be even more difficult. This is even true, especially for elders who experience the seasonal affective disorder in Hudson, Trinity, and Wesley Chapel area. Even though many individuals suffer from the seasonal affective disorder, elders who have Alzheimer's condition are more likely to suffer from seasonal depression because of the nature and symptoms of dementia.

What is Seasonal Depression?

It is also known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). It is a disorder usually triggered by seasonal change, generally when fall starts. This SAD gets worse in early winter and the late fall before it ends in the warm days of spring.

Causes of Seasonal Depression

SAD is not just about changing moods or temporary gloominess that comes out of coincidence. Actually, the causes of seasonal depression are researched and well-documented. Research shows that the weather is the main cause of most of the symptoms.

Once the days are shorter and the air becomes colder, many individuals usually have far less exposure to the sun compared to other times, especially the elderly. Because exposure to sunlight directly affects the amount of serotonin produced by the brain, its level tends to decrease during winter compared to other seasons.

Since serotonin is mainly responsible for controlling our mood, when its level drops, it leads to bouts of SAD because of the weather. For elderly citizens, decreased serotonin levels are usually coupled with reduced mobility during the winter, thus creating an ideal environment for SAD to thrive. Other causes influencing SAD include decreased melatonin and pre-existing conditions like Alzheimer's.

Symptoms of SAD

It might become difficult for seniors with Alzheimer's to identify symptoms of seasonal depression. Some SAD symptoms to look out for include:

  • Avoiding social activities
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Lethargy
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Insomnia
  • Moodiness
  • Oversleeping or difficulty sleeping
  • Weight gain

Alzheimer's and Seasonal Affective Disorder

A lot of people with Alzheimer's will be affected by the winter and fall months, and they might be battling SAD alongside their Alzheimer's symptoms. However, identifying seasonal depression symptoms in seniors with Alzheimer's can be challenging for some reasons. First, SAD can be hard to diagnose accurately, regardless of a person's age. Because many seniors are not always aware of the depression symptoms, they might not open up about any problem they are experiencing.

So, caregivers in Hudson, Trinity, and Wesley Chapel must constantly be on the lookout for any symptoms of SAD before they worsen. Of course, it becomes even more challenging when taking care of seniors with Alzheimer's since it can be difficult to talk to them. This increases the need for caregivers and physicians to always be vigilant, especially during winter.

During winter, it's essential for family and in-home caregivers to include activities and treatment in their Alzheimer's care plans that take care of these two conditions simultaneously. Some treatments for SAD include:

  • Light therapy
  • Moderate exercise
  • Music
  • Talk therapy

Let Senior Helpers Pasco West Help

Receiving Alzheimer's care from a reliable home care agency can help improve an elderly's quality of life. Most in-home caregivers at Senior Helpers Pasco West usually go through dementia and Alzheimer's care training. This equips our caregivers with more skills and expertise than general caregiving services.

Our services are available for seniors in New Port Richey, Land O' Lakes, Hudson, Trinity, Wesley Chapel, Tarpon Springs, Pasco/Pinellas, Palm Harbor, and Oldsmar. Contact us today to learn more about our services.