Combat loneliness with ABC’s Telehealth Program!
The “Winter Blues” are a real thing
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), more commonly known as the “winter blues,” occurs in climates where there is less sunlight at certain times of the year and can cause individuals to experience symptoms such as fatigue and decreased energy, depression, hopelessness, restlessness and social withdrawal. The “winter blues” are very common, with many of us experiencing a mood shift during the colder, darker winter months.
While specific causes remain unknown, the following are known to contribute to SAD:
- Circadian Rhythm (AKA “your biological clock”)
- Reduced sunlight may affect your body’s internal clock which can lead to feelings of depression
- Decreased Serotonin Levels
- Serotonin is a chemical in the brain that affects mood and reduced sunlight can cause a drop in serotonin which can trigger depression
- Disrupted Melatonin Levels
- Changes of the seasons can disrupt the balance of the body’s level of melatonin which plays a role in mood as well as sleep patterns
The good news is that the “winter blues” are temporary and you can incorporate things like regular exercise and spending more time outdoors to help overcome symptoms. In addition, making your environment sunnier and brighter can be a big help as well. Light therapy (phototherapy) is considered “a treatment” for SAD as it consists of either exposure to daylight or some equivalent form of light. Especially for those who find it more difficult to get outside, mid-day exposure to a high-quality light therapy lamp for 15 minutes or so is very effective in providing the perfect amount of light that results in an improvement in mood as well as increased focus and energy.
Other ideas to consider are as follows:
Have you been thinking of redecorating? Try substituting a dark paint color in your home with a bright one!
Is your room feeling dark? Turn on any lamps and lights in the room that you are spending time in and avoid just relying on natural light and the light from a TV or fireplace!
Loneliness and social isolation are known public health risks
A report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) found that nearly one-fourth of adults aged 65 and older are not only lonely but they are considered to be socially isolated.1 Aside from being susceptible to increased feelings of depression, anxiety and suicide, social isolation is associated with about a 50% increased risk of dementia as well as significantly increase a person’s risk of premature death from a variety of conditions like smoking, obesity and physical inactivity.1
Both loneliness and social isolation are widely known public health risks- especially for seniors- but it is important to know that these are not one in the same. Loneliness is the feeling of being alone, regardless of the amount of social contact, while social isolation is a lack of social connections. Especially for seniors who live alone or are recently widowed and do not have friends or family who visit frequently or live nearby, they can experience heightened feelings of loneliness and begin to withdraw completely as a result. As these individuals withdraw, they start to fall into the trap of social isolation which can negatively impact their overall health including their mental well-being, cognitive capability and physical condition.
Especially during these challenging times of quarantining and lack of in-person gatherings/visits due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our seniors are one of the vulnerable populations that have been “hit the hardest” by the increased feelings of loneliness and social isolation. It is important to pay close attention to the signs that you or your loved one may be displaying that could indicate they need additional help at home.
One can be the loneliest number but it doesn’t have to be!
While everyone- especially seniors- experiences feelings of loneliness from time to time, this loneliness does not need to escalate to social isolation. Many of our ABC clients have been extremely grateful to receive the assistance from their homemaker, home health aide and/or nurse throughout these long 10 months. In addition to their regular home care services, several clients have also signed up for ABC’s Telehealth Program– whereby a member of the ABC staff calls an individual on a weekly basis to check in and have a nice conversation. We are delighted that this Telehealth Program has brought such joy and happiness to our clients as well as it has offered increased peace of mind for our clients’ family members!
Know someone who could benefit from a weekly telehealth call? Click here to sign up!
In addition to ABC’s services, there are other resources available to you or your loved one including the AARP website which provides access to community connection tools as well as helpful information to seniors to help improve their quality of life and, most importantly, local Aging Service Access Points (ASAPs).
ABC Home Healthcare Professionals is a proud, contracted partner with each of the following ASAPs that help provide critical programs such as Meals on Wheels to seniors in each respective community as well as state funding to clients (who are eligible) to help afford much needed home care services like personal care and telehealth:
· North Reading
Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley
· North Andover
Still needing guidance on how to get the help you need or arranging assistance for your loved one? Call ABC Home Healthcare Professionals today – 781.245.1880 – and we can provide the guidance you need!