Labor Day is the unofficial end to summer. With the leaves starting to change colors, the days getting shorter and the kids back in school, it’s hard not to have fall on the brain. Fall is a beautiful month with plenty of warm weather, but the temperatures do start to drop and there’s less sunlight during the day. If you have an elderly loved one who is affected by the weather, you may be worried about the upcoming fall and winter months.

Fall and winter are, by nature, more isolating times of the year. It’s difficult to get outdoors, and people spend more time inside. But, this time of the year can be particularly hard for an elder who is already dealing with chronic health issues or limited mobility. Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is a form of depression that cycles with the seasons. It can occur any time of the year, but it’s most common in the late fall and winter.

According to the National Institute of Health, SAD is more common among women and people who live in Northern areas where winter weather is harshest. The most common symptoms include a loss of energy, lethargy, tiredness, sadness, increased appetite and the desire to be alone. The main difference between SAD and general depression is that it strikes during certain times of the year. When combined with a lack of Vitamin D, the effects of SAD can be hazardous.

If you know that your loved one has a change in mood during the late fall, be prepared this year. So many seniors are left untreated when it comes to depression because the signs go unnoticed or are attributed to other conditions – don’t let your parent or grandparent experience the same. Here are some of the ways you can help today.

  • Light Therapy – Talk to your doctor about which light box is best to purchase. These fluorescent lamps give off light that is similar to natural sunlight to boost mood and energy. The doctor may recommend having your loved one sit in front of the box for 30-45 minutes a day.
  • Vitamin D – Seniors are at-risk for a Vitamin D deficiency, and less sunlight puts them more at risk. Talk to your doctor about adding a Vitamin D supplement to the diet or implementing more Vitamin D foods such as milk and yogurt.
  • Antidepressants – Antidepressants are best started at the onset of symptoms, so now is a good time to meet with the doctor and discuss various antidepressants that are available.

SAD is treatable, so start with a treatment regimen early this year!