Sometimes I wonder what Im a-gonna to doCause there aint no cure for the summertime blues.In 1959, Eddie Cochran penned and performed this catchy song. Little did he likely realize he had coined a phrase describing a real mental/emotional issue. Known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), this form of depression is usually associated with winter, but approximately 10-30% of people are affected during warmer months the summertime blues.It is uncertain as to why this seasonal reversal happens, but there could be several contributing factors such as:abrupt schedule changes with less structureuncomfortable heat/humidityabsence of friends and family due to vacationschanges in brain chemistrycultural pressure to feel light-hearted and happynegative body image issues due to more skin exposure or bathing suit requirementssleep pattern disruption from longer days and shorter nightsNo matter the exact reasons, feelings of sadness in the summer do happen. Consider these helpful tips towards addressing and combatting them:Establish a summer routine as best you can. Accept that it may undergo additional changes, and that is OK.Incorporate exercise in your day, even if it is gentle, like stretching or chair movement.Get enough sleep. If possible, keep the same bedtime schedule. Allow yourself time to wind down, even if it is light outside, or consider using a sleep mask. You also can try earplugs if your neighborhood is noisy or other family members are still up and active.Stay hydrated. Water is often overlooked as a factor of fatigue and negative emotions. Try keeping a glass by the sink or a water bottle in the car or carry one with you while going about your day.Choose healthy foods that will nourish and feel good in your body.Keep a tab on how much you are isolated. Try to engage in activities with others some specific suggestions below!* Protect yourself from heat and glare with sunglasses, hats and lightweight clothing.* Be kind to yourself. Identify your triggers and reflect on ways to overcome them.* Show yourself compassion and give yourself space to adapt, process and grow.At Kavod Senior Life, we provide opportunities for both community members and residents alike to stay engaged and protect from depression, SAD or otherwise. These include gathering for healthy meals (once a day in Senior Living, three times a day in Assisted Living), or participating in activities, outdoor gardening, and spiritual programs including mindfulness and coffee chats with our chaplain. Residents can also talk to our staffed Care Coordinators (like social workers) to get additional help and connect with resources. We also have supportive health and wellness classes and services such as yoga, dancing and more. If you are struggling with SAD and are local to Denver, we welcome you to Kavod to participate with us and keep yourself emotionally healthy. We hope this information and our resources will help you have an enjoyable, positive summer and chase away those troublesome blues. For more information, please call 303-399-1146.
We all feel blue sometimes, and thats OK. But when sadness and other symptoms interfere with our daily living, it might be something to address.As we age, we may be at increased risk for depression, but this treatable medical condition is not necessarily a normal part of getting older. Depression is not a character flaw. It is not a weakness. It is not your fault. It is an illness. While major life events such as bereavement can trigger it, depression is different from the negative feelings from a difficult life event. Depression causes feelings that are intense, chronic and out of proportion to circumstances. Depression can last for several weeks, months or years, often becoming a chronic illness like diabetes or hypertension that requires treatment. It is the leading cause of disability worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.Undiagnosed depression can have a physical toll. The National Institutes of Health says that adults with a depressive disorder or symptoms have a 64% higher risk of developing coronary artery disease than those without depression. Some people might be prone to depression due to their genetics, but there is no single cause of depression in older adults. The National Council on Aging lists these as some additional risk factors: Chronic conditions (about 80% of older adults have at least one chronic health condition, per the CDC) Decreased functional ability Reduced mobility Chronic pain Financial issues Elder abuse Caregiver stress Lack of physical activity Loneliness Symptoms of depression may differ across cultures, as well as by sex/gender. For instance, according to the Mayo Clinic, women are twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression than men. In men, depression often shows up as anger or irritability. Furthermore, symptoms of depression are often different from those in younger people. Sadness is not always the main symptom. It can be a feeling of numbness or lack of interest in activities, which is often attributed to age. Mental health professionals and healthcare providers may sometimes mistake symptoms as reactions to illness or life changes.There are several reasons why depression may be missed. Older adults may be isolated, with few around to notice their symptoms or distress. Also, many do not realize that physical pain can sometimes indicate depression. In addition, we may feel stigma admitting to mental health problems and may be reluctant to talk about feelings and ask for help. Certain medications and medical illnesses can bring on depression or have similar symptoms.As a result, it is important to understand the signs, symptoms and consequences of depression. According to the CDC, here are some of the potential symptoms of depression: Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism Feelings of guilt, worthlessness and/or helplessness Anxiety and worry Irritability, restlessness Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable Fatigue and decreased energy Difficulty concentrating, remembering details and making decisions Insomnia, earlymorning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping Overeating or appetite loss Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not get better, even with treatment. Memory problems Lack of motivation and energy Slowed movement and speech Neglecting personal care (skipping meals, forgetting meds, neglecting personal hygiene). Throughout our lives, we are told that lifestyle changes can improve health and wellness, including mental health. Meditation, breathing exercises and exercise can help people of any age.According to the National Institute on Aging, we can also lower the risk of depression by: Getting seven to nine hours of sleep every night Avoiding isolation and staying connected with friends and family Doing activities that make them happy Telling family, friends or a healthcare provider if they are developing depressive symptoms. Depression is easier to treat before it escalates. Health professionals can rule out any underlying medical conditions that could be causing symptoms of depression such as dementia, Parkinsons disease, heart disease or medication interactions. A primary care doctor can also screen for signs of depression and recommend treatment that might include medication, therapy or a combination of both.Many people with mild to moderate depression respond to psychotherapy, such as cognitive behavior therapy, which teaches new ways of thinking and behavior, and changing habits that might contribute to depression. Finding the right medication to treat depression is similar to treating some other illnesses; it might take time to find the right medicine, particularly with age-related changes to metabolism and drug interactions. The most important thing to know if you feel you or someone you know may be suffering from depression is you are not alone. Depression can be treated. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Courtney L. Whitt, Ph.D. is Director of Behavioral Health at Healthcare Network, which offers behavioral health services as a routine part of comprehensive care and traditional counseling services. Healthcare Network provides quality primary care services for children and adults in locations throughout Collier County. To learn more or make an appointment, please call 239.658.3000 or visit HealthcareSWFL.org.
Whats the key to aging well? Its just one factor of many, but engaging with spirituality and religion consistently improves quality of life for seniors, leading to several positive effects. At Amira Choice, strongly believe in the value of spiritual support. With that in mind, here are five benefits to embracing spirituality later in life.PurposeAs we age, transitioning out of our careers and moving past the years when were most needed as parents, it becomes extremely important to find new ways of engaging, exploring, and encouraging others. Research is showing that spirituality can play a part in helping seniors with healthy, positive aging by providing a sense of structure and understanding for our lives. Connecting to something larger than ourselves, serving others, and thinking beyond our own situation can truly improve the quality of our days.CommunitySeniors with spiritual support gain access to the rich community that characterizes faith groups. Pursuing connections and investing in relationships, new and old, makes every day worth celebrating. By attending worship services, joining book or Bible studies, and sharing open conversations with other members of our faith, we form and strengthen relationships that enhance our lives and when a senior living community supports and encourages religious involvement, the social benefits spread throughout the community.HopeSeeing challenges arise in our life and the lives of the people we love can be difficult to manage. How we handle those challenges, and maintain a sense of hope in the face of them, has big implications for our health in later years. Spirituality and religion can provide a strong support, lifting our spirits when we need it most. Connecting to faith gives seniors a mental boost to cope with illness and loss and helps them maintain the positivity that leads to recovery and new beginnings.BrainpowerKeeping our brains active and engaged as we age is hugely important, and spirituality provides a jolt to our brainpower. Studies have shown that practicing religion helps to slow cognitive decline, and for seniors living with dementia and other forms of memory loss, it can help reduce or stabilize cognitive disorders. Improving our mental capacity means improving every aspect of our life, from our health to our relationships and our daily activities.HealthAlong with increasing brain function and offering an outlet for personal connection, religion and spirituality provide real psychological benefits that help improve health outcomes overall. Seniors who rely on faith enjoy a more positive and hopeful attitude about life and illness, which actually predicts better health outcomes. They are less likely to develop depression and anxiety, and because of their renewed sense of purpose, they tend to have healthier habits and relationships. In short, belief, positivity, and hope lead to tangible improvements in our health and wellness.At Amira Choice, our faith-based programming is ecumenically diverse, and were blessed to have residents and staff from a variety of religious traditions. Visit the Amira Choice community near you and ask about the spiritual programing we provide transportation to, or offer in-house.