The holidays are over. And many seniors are left feeling a sense of letdown, now that the excitement of visitors, food, gifts, and family have departed. Now we all start having to deal with winter weather…snow, cold, and being housebound. And it doesn’t help that January/February days still lack the benefit of longer sunlight hours.

Winter months can showcase depression in the elderly. Be watchful of your elderly parents, especially those who may be widowed. Some people who regularly experience feelings of sadness and anxiety during the winter months may be diagnosed with a particular type of depression called seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Geriatricians say seniors are more susceptible to this wintertime depression, as well as to depression of every type.

Health conditions such as heart disease, vision loss, mobility problems, chronic pain, and even the normal brain changes associated with aging may increase the risk of depression. Some medications or combinations of medications raise the risk, as well.

Also, current lifestyle conditions can effect mood and mental health. The common circumstances of aging, such as the loss of a spouse or other family, decreased energy, loneliness, and/or simply too much free and unstructured time each day…making each day the same as the one before it and the one to follow.

If you or a senior loved one is experiencing persistent sadness, anxiety, lack of energy and a loss of interest in things that are usually pleasurable, it’s important to report this to your family doctor or primary physician. Remember that depression is not “just a normal part of aging.” It is a treatable medical condition, like diabetes, heart disease or hypertension.
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– John D. Miller is the founder/owner of Home Care Partners, LLC, a Massachusetts business providing private duty, personalized in-home assistance and companion care services to those needing help in daily activities and household functions. He can be reached at: (781) 378-2164; email: jdmiller@homecarepartners.biz ; or online at: www.homecarepartnersma.com

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