Loneliness and Seasonal Affective Disorder
If you asked someone what their favourite month was, we’re fairly certain that not many people (except maybe winter sports enthusiasts) would reply with “January, February, and March.”
This period after the holidays can be tough for many, and particularly for seniors. There’s a reason that January the 25th is known as Blue Monday, the most depressing day of the year! Although “Blue Monday” is often joked about, the issue of loneliness or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is an often-overlooked problem.
What is SAD?
We know what loneliness is, but what is SAD? Seasonal Affective Disorder, known as SAD, is a type of depression that occurs during the changes of the season. Many parts of Canada experience extreme changes in temperature, daylight, snowfall and rainfall during the course of 12 months. For example, some areas can be -20 in the winter and +40 in the summer, and some areas can stay cold what feels like the whole year round! These changes, and also constant low temperatures with little sunlight, can trigger depressive symptoms in many people.
Are loneliness and SAD the same?
No, loneliness and SAD are not the same. Loneliness is a condition, often felt by seniors, that results from a lack of social interaction. However, loneliness can cause similar depressive symptoms to SAD! Also, if you combine loneliness (which can often occur after the holidays, as people restart their routines and spend less time with family – particularly seniors) with SAD, it can result in more severe symptoms.
How do I know if the senior in my life is suffering from loneliness or SAD?
Here are symptoms to look out for (this is a brief list, talk to a qualified medical practitioner for more information):
- Difficulty sleeping well
- Low energy
- Lack of social interaction
- Changes in eating habits
How to help combat loneliness and SAD.
At Continyou Care, we fully believe that loneliness can be combated before it has become an issue. It’s important, especially periods such as after major holidays, to keep in contact with the senior in your life. If they live in another part of Canada, this can simply mean frequently calling or Skyping them. The best way to do this is to create a routine – and try to stick to it – say Sundays at 4 pm. 15 minutes to you may not be significant, but for the senior in your life, whether it be your parent, grandparent, family relative or just a friend, it could mean more than you could imagine.
Also, encourage them to participate in activities to help combat loneliness. Boardgame clubs, exercise sessions, or just coffee meetings are a great way to make friends and combat loneliness.
If you suspect the senior in your life is suffering from SAD they should be assessed by a medical practitioner. Fixes that you can employ for SAD in the meantime include ensuring that they remain active and social, buying them a “Light Therapy Box/Lamp” (bright light therapy is said to stimulate the brain chemicals that can help in alleviating SAD) and ensuring their SAD does not evolve into major depression which should be assessed by a medical practitioner immediately if suspected.
At Continyou Care, we’re passionate about senior health and using our technology to improve the experience of residents in both retirement homes and long-term care facilities. If you’re interested in utilizing our technology and solutions to achieve an immediate and measurable ROI, contact us today!