With the holidays now in the rearview mirror, it’s not uncommon to feel a dip in energy or experience the winter blues. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) can affect individuals of any age, but SAD can often be overlooked for seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease since many of the symptoms overlap. Those experiencing SAD may display mood changes, fatigue, lack of self care, difficulties with sleep, trouble concentrating, or sudden disinterest in favorite activities.
Memory issues already have the potential to cause confusion and anxiety, but SAD becomes a greater concern when seasonal changes limit sunlight exposure and increased isolation creates an atmosphere for depression to grow.
Help boost your loved one’s mood by planning simple activities to look forward to and enjoy together:
- Many homeowners leave their holiday lights up well into the New Year. Take a leisurely drive to seek out the best light displays.
- Set up a designated surface for puzzles and do a few pieces every time you visit.
- If your loved one has a green thumb, start an in-door windowsill garden for fresh herbs or low-maintenance succulents.
- Brainstorm a list of classic movies to rewatch together during your visits. Pair your movies with themed snacks to engage multiple senses.
- If your loved one has a sweet tooth, gather the fixings for hot cocoa or bake their favorite desserts together.
- Schedule short video calls with family and friends that live too far away for in-person visits.
- Bring back the idea of pen pals by investing in some decorative cards to mail to old friends or family members. Ask the recipients to send back postcards from their hometowns or family photos to spark your loved one’s memories.
- On days when you’re taking your loved one to doctor’s appointments or picking up prescriptions, pair the task with getting lunch or taking a short walk to experience a change of scenery or a breath of fresh air.
- Relax on the couch with a blanket and read your loved one their favorite book out loud. If the story is relatable, ask them if they can remember having similar experiences in their lifetime.
- When it’s time to clean up or get ready for the day, turn on some fun music and have a 30 second dance party to put a smile on their face and get their body moving.
Keep a close eye on your loved ones suffering from memory issues during the colder months in order to identify if they’re experiencing symptoms of SAD. Explore our 5 Tips To Avoid Seasonal Depression to learn how to brighten your loved one’s winter days.
Willow River is Here to Help
At Willow River, we understand the challenges that Alzheimer’s and dementia can bring. If you have questions or need help, Willow River has the answers and resources you need. Call Willow River Senior Living at 888-546-1886 to start the conversation today.
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