3 Things to Consider Before Consulting a Doctor
Elderly people living in the Gold Coast and along Chicago’s lakefront communities can often feel a little down during the winter. During this time, the days are short and the nights are much longer. This can be a normal reaction during this time of year, or it could be seasonal affective disorder and not just the “winter blues.”
According to the Mayo Clinic, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that typically occurs during the same time each year. Symptoms may start in the fall and lasts throughout the winter. During this period, seniors have less energy and become more moody. The Mayo Clinic suggests that people do not just ignore these signs and allow the senior to handle them alone.
Symptoms of winter-onset SAD include:
- Loss of energy
- Feeling hopeless
- Social withdrawal
- Changes in appetite
- Weight gain
- Loss of interest in favorite activities
- Feeling heavy in the arms or legs
- Difficulty concentrating
SAD is considered to be a serious health problem and should be treated by medical professionals to improve the senior’s condition. If an elderly person struggles when the seasons change, has a hard time functioning throughout the day or if the symptoms above interfere with the senior’s ability to interact with people around them, it is important the person consults with a doctor.
The most common treatment for SAD is light therapy. The light emits a controlled amount of light that the senior can use to illuminate their home. Light therapy can be turned on during the winter months when SAD is likely to occur and can be turned off during the months where there symptoms typically dissolve on their own. It is important to stick to a routine when it comes to light therapy to ensure the senior is getting the benefits the light offers.
Elderly people do not need a prescription for light therapy, but it is recommended to use this light under the supervision of a medical professional. Light therapy does have side effects which include eye strain, headaches and feeling agitated. Having a caregiver in a senior’s home can be very useful if the senior has SAD or is using light therapy. Caregivers can monitor the senior’s behavior, help monitor and manage light the light therapy, and report any changes to the family or their doctor. Should a person experience any of those side effects, consult with a doctor to determine if the dose of light therapy needs to change.