Summer Blues for Seniors: Seasonal Affective Disorder in Arizona’s Sunny Climate

A senior woman looking out the window experiencing seasonal affective disorder.
Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, doesn’t just exist in the wintertime; it can affect those in hot climates as well.

Many people move to states like Arizona for the year-round nice weather. Our sunny skies attract older adults who want to escape the snow and experience summer all year long. Because of this, often people assume that those who live in sunny states are not affected by seasonal affective disorder, also known as SAD. However, here SAD tends to happen in reverse.

The heat of summer is often too much for older adults. Time spent outside often dwindles as the temperature rises, and many Arizona seniors stay indoors until fall when the heat dissipates and becomes more bearable. Being stuck inside for months at a time can bring about boredom and feelings of isolation that can lead to seasonal affective disorder.

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Seasonal affective disorder is a form of depression. Most often, it is associated with the cold, dreary days of winter. However, it can also be experienced in the heat of summer. Those with SAD can experience mood changes that are similar to depression, including:

  • Feeling sad or anxious
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Restlessness
  • Loss of interest in once-loved activities
  • Slowed speech or movements
  • Difficulty making decisions or concentrating
  • Loss of appetite
  • Feelings of extreme guilt or worthlessness
  • Thoughts of self-harm or suicide

For older adults, symptoms of SAD can vary from mild to severe, and they can result from different sources. Some symptoms may be a natural result of boredom from being inside so much and unable to safely navigate the heat. If this is the case, Nightingale Home Care offers the following tips to help family caregivers plan activities to keep older loved ones engaged, in spite of the heat:

  • Get out when it is safe. Plan outdoor activities during the early morning or late evening hours when the heat is not as intense. Take a walk right after breakfast and dinner to ensure the older adult gets out at least a couple of times per day. Make sure to bring water along to stay hydrated.
  • Develop fun indoor activities. During the hottest times of the day, staying inside where it’s cool is essential. Break out some fun board games or a puzzle, organize a scrapbook, knit or crochet together, bake a cake, or find some other fun activity that can be done indoors.
  • Consider a dinner party. Being stuck inside can increase feelings of isolation. Invite friends and family over regularly for a dinner party to ensure the older adult stays social.
  • Visit a museum or see a movie. Look for indoor activities outside the home, such as visiting a museum or seeing a movie or play.

If a loved one continues to struggle with seasonal affective disorder or symptoms seem to be worsening, additional support or medication may be needed. Contact the individual’s healthcare provider to determine if antidepressants or other treatments are recommended.

Home Care Can Help!

For Arizona seniors struggling with SAD, the support and companionship of an in-home caregiver can help. Our trusted non-medical home care services can ensure that older adults have everything they need in the home, including groceries and medications, so they don’t have to run errands during the heat of the day. Additionally, Nightingale Home Care’s caregivers can serve as a trusted companion, giving the person someone to talk to, play games with, cook with, and more. We can also provide transportation and accompaniment to activities outside the home, ensuring the older adult remains active and engaged in their community.

At Nightingale Home Care, we are available to develop customized care solutions to help older adults thrive in the comfort and familiarity of home. If you have a loved one who could benefit from our in-home care services in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, Peoria or the surrounding communities, give us a call today at (602) 903-6793 or reach out to us online.