How Senior Living Can Help Seniors With Seasonal Affective Disorder

February 1, 2022

Seasonal change increases the likelihood that the older adults may fall into depression, and this may cause withdrawal, while also posing a threat on their ability to receive care. This guide helps you understand seasonal depression and how it affects your loved ones. It also informs you on possible treatments and ways to handle the situation. 

What is seasonal depression? 

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), also known as seasonal depression, is a form of depression which is often regarded as cyclical with the seasons. Most older adults experience this form of depression at any time in the year, but it is more rampant during the winter season. This condition is not traceable to any medical basis, but most mental health experts relate it to the hormonal changes that occur with less exposure to daylight. The decline in daylight alters the circadian rhythm which results in the hormonal changes that cause depression among the seniors.  

How/why does it affect seniors?

When it comes to SAD, the most vulnerable category of seniors tend to be those that are homebound. A lack of sunlight increases the risk of Vitamin D deficiency, disrupted sleep patterns, and a decline in their serotonin levels. It is generally known that the serotonin chemical regulates the mood and as such the hormonal imbalance affects the mood. In the absence of Vitamin D, the body may not be as strong as it should be and may leave seniors in a depressive state.

Older adults may lose interest in the things, people, and events that they formerly enjoyed. In light of this, they also experience a distorted sleeping pattern, gain more weight from excessive eating, or withdraw from friends and loved ones. SAD also affects the productivity levels of seniors making them more anxious, tired and hypersensitive to happenings and their environment. This can lead to a feeling of hopelessness that people with SAD experience for that specific period of time. 

SAD may increase the effects on those with chronic depression but it is important to note that it is not limited to persons who have chronic depression. In other words, all older adults are susceptible to SAD in the winter season and for this reason, caregivers must be on the lookout for the signs and symptoms. It is also recommended that caregivers actively provide an environment that mitigates the effect of the season change on their loved ones by making changes to the routines or activities of their loved one that will help improve their mood during the winter season.  

Treatment for SAD 

Light therapy

Seniors should spend as much time as possible outside when the sun is out and when they can. The caregivers can either take them on a walk or just have them sit at the porch enjoying the daylight. It is understood that some older adults may not be able to leave the house; in this case, a sunlamp or a light box can be used to mimic the daylight effect as a way of making up for the lack of sunlight. Alternatively, the windows and curtains in the room should be opened for the seniors to enjoy the sun rays that penetrate into the room. This treatment will help curb the lack of vitamin D among the older adults within the society. 

Use of Medications

Seniors can take vitamin supplements to counterbalance the effects of SAD. Because SAD is traced to the lack of vitamin D, the use of supplements may improve their chances of hormonal balance and boost their immune system. We recommend that you also consult a medical practitioner who may prescribe the medications for the older adults with SAD. Sometimes, this condition is treated with antidepressants, but it is advisable to have a medical practitioner make the prescription before you administer the drugs to your loved ones. 


The winter season comes with a lot of alone time. It is therefore important that your loved ones are given a platform where they can talk about the difficult emotions that they have to deal with daily. It also empowers them with the necessary skills to combat the SAD effects. They can explore the reasons behind the depression and can often recover at a faster pace.

How senior care/assisted living can help a senior struggling with SAD

Senior care minimizes the isolation statistics among the seniors as the presence of a caregiver decreases the risk of SAD. This technique offers the older adults’ companionship in the course of the day even when all their family members are at work or involved in other social engagements. More so, with senior care, residents often have access to a large number of group activities that are beneficial to their general well-being. Within a community, seniors are active with their minds being kept engaged via the events and activities that foster human connection.

How PLC communities help seniors living with SAD

Priority life care communities help seniors living with SAD through a variety of programs, which encourages independence, while providing extra services like on-site caregivers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Residents receive personalized assistance to support their independence, minimizing the risk of SAD. In addition, our caregivers get to know each resident one-on-one and are trained in recognizing changes in resident behavior.

The program brings social life to the doorstep of each resident. Community living is a great way to meet new friends. Many residents find that living with their peers, they are able to share common interests and hobbies with many new friends.  Our communities foster human connection through our life enrichment activities, social events, and dining experience. Residents can come and go as they please and invite friends and family to visit or join them for a life enrichment class or a meal. 

Our life enrichment programs are designed to provide overall wellness for the body, mind and soul through engaging our seniors in activities that promote physical fitness, mental stimulation and self-care for seniors.

Senior living is a great option for many seniors and families who struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder. If you believe personal care could be your family’s next step, head to our Find a Community page to contact a community near you.

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