Tuesday, June 15, 2021

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Q: What hazards do the elderly face during winter?

Posted December 19, 2012 in Advice Column

A: We all think about the falls that the winter weather creates, and sometimes we worry about hypothermia in certain situations. But elderly loved ones are at risk for other hazards brought on by cold weather.

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and vitamin D deficiency can be hazardous to a seniors’ health. SAD is a form of depression that cycles with seasons. As the days get shorter and the weather cools off people are affected. They may show the symptoms of depression which include a loss of energy, an increased or decreased appetite, an enhanced feeling of tiredness, lack of interest in daily activities, difficulty concentrating, irresponsible behavior, increased anxiety, feelings of worthlessness and helplessness. According to the National Institute of Health, SAD is more likely to affect women and people who live in the northern areas where the sun is not as strong or constant. Like other forms of depression SAD can be treated with antidepressant medications. Another form of treatment would be light therapy. Light therapy  utilizes a piece of equipment called a light box.

Of course, an alternative to light therapy would be daily exposure to sunlight. Vitamin deficiency is bad for any person’s health, but is particularly for the elderly. Combating vitamin D deficiency can be tricky. As with anything, readers, always check with your physician when experiencing any changes.

Information provided by Jade Williams R.N., B.S.N.; Healthcare Coordinator at Windsor Manor Assisted Living of Webster City.

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