With the winter coming on and the days getting shorter, many people find it harder to cope. For those with mobility concerns or mental health problems, it can get even worse.
For those with dementia, the winter months can enhance their symptoms. It can make it much more difficult for the person with dementia and their carers. Dark and gloomy days can make anyone feel blue.
Many people find themselves feeling blue or depressed throughout the winter months. Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is a very common affliction for many people.
With the days shorter and darker, plus less outdoor activity, it means people are spending more time indoors. It can affect your mental and physical health. It is much worse for people with dementia and depression.
Dark Days Affect Dementia
For people living with dementia, the winter can be particularly difficult. For those in areas where they participate in daylight savings time, this can also add to the confusion. Their internal clocks are telling them it is time for lunch or sleep, but the reality is not adding up.
It Makes Sundowning Worse
With the shorter and darker day of winter, it can affect sundowning. Sundowning can be a lot of different symptoms like anger, aggression, confusion, and irritation.
Any of these behaviors can occur at the end of the day when the sun goes down and even into the night. During winter, dark nights can be very long and the days can be dark, rainy, and gloomy, which will make coping more difficult.
Sleep is Affected with Both Dementia and Depression
With the sun coming up later in the morning and going down earlier in the evening, it can mess with people’s sleeping patterns. People with dementia may want to go to bed earlier or sleep later.
When we don’t get enough sleep, it makes it harder to concentrate, focus, and think clearly. If a person with dementia is not getting enough sleep, it will make their symptoms that much worse.
Sleeping too much can also lead to fogginess and
Depression and Dementia Can Go Hand in Hand
When people sleep more and more, it can lead to depression. Also, if the person with dementia isn’t able to communicate or comprehend why it is dark so much, it can be very frustrating.
People are not going outside as much and can become bored and depressed from staying indoors a lot more. It can add to their stress levels and cause them to become depressed, despondent, and even angry.
The weather can also make it more difficult for the family to come and visit, which will also have an effect on their mood and overall behavior. They may not understand why people are not coming, which can cause them to get depressed or even act out.
There can be changes in cognitive functions in people with dementia. Just like with SAD, the darker days can bring about mild depression that will affect the way people think and reason. There are also new cases of mild cognitive impairment and dementia during the winter.
Cold damp weather also can bring about more pain in people, like arthritis or joint pain. It can be much more difficult for someone with dementia as they may not understand why they are in pain and unable to express it.
Cold and rain can also mean less activity, so that can cause stiffness and other aches and pains to form, just from their sedentary lifestyle throughout the winter.
Stiff or aching hands, fingers, knees, hips, or shoulders can all be very painful and frustrating for the patient and the caregiver. The cold and damp can make those aches and pains so much worse.
Seasonal Ailments Can Lead to Depression
Along with the aches and pains that come from the cold, we are also susceptible to colds and the flu. These can make the best of us feel down and it can really take a toll on our physical and mental health, as well.
Treating people with dementia that have a bad cold or the flu can make them miserable. Trying to wipe their noses, give them medication, or cough tablets might be near impossible.
It will make them more miserable, as even a common cold can cause dizziness, a foggy head and it comes with fever, nausea, and more aches and pains. Plus, chapped lips, dry skin, chapped hands, and feet are all painful and unpleasant to cope with.
The More You Know About Dementia and Depression
Being aware of these conditions can help you as a caregiver to be more aware of what your patient is experiencing. If you notice a change in behavior during the changing of the seasons, you can be better prepared to cope.
Everything we experience in the winter so does the person with dementia. But, they can’t always tell us.
We Are Here To Help
At Sycamore Creek Ranch Memory Care we are here to help. We want families to make the best decision for their situation.
Furthermore, the staff at Sycamore Creek Ranch is proactive. That means we are not waiting for a problem to arise. Instead, we are actively engaged with each and every resident. And with only 16 residents we can do that! Come for a tour at Sycamore Creek Ranch! See how we can help!