Avoiding Seasonal Depression in Alzheimer's Patients

Leah Health Guide
  • It’s been a week and a half since I wrote my last blog—the longest I think I’ve ever gone.  Usually I can’t contain myself and try to write more frequently than I should.  I’m not sure what has happened to me…since I spent the time at my cottage, I haven’t been able to really get into anything.  It may be that upsetting my routine has netted this result. But, I shall try my best to write about what I’ve been doing.


    Remember when I wrote about painting the room at my cottage and compared it to a ping pong ball?  This past week, I went to finish the room by myself.  Actually, it turned out to be good that no one was there with me as I could do it in my own time frame.  I found that I had about twenty minutes of concentration at a time.  So, daily, I mapped out what I was going to do and then my routine went like this: 

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    ·         Start to put tape around where needed—20 minutes

    ·         Get a drink; watch TV (HGTV home improvement shows, of course)—20-30 minutes

    ·         Finish taping the walls—20 minutes

    ·         Use the bathroom, watch TV (ditto above)—20-30 minutes

    ·         Start to trim out the room with the paint—20 minutes

    ·         Walk outside and check out the plants—20-30 minutes

    ·         Etc.


    You get the picture…I was actually able to completely paint the room using this timing.  Of course, it did take me two days to paint the 7x9 foot room.  But I accomplished it, and it made me feel very good!


    Having vascular dementia has turned my life upside down.  There is not a day that goes by that it does not affect. 

    I’d like to talk about something else which affects my life and has done so since my 20’s.  It may be something that also affects your loved one with dementia/Alzheimer’s.  I am talking about SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder.  It occurs during that time of year that the days get shorter…and it makes one feel like a bear wanting to hibernate.  It affects me by making me feel lethargic, melancholy, and tired.  Unless lights are kept bright, I have great difficulty just getting through the darker days of Fall and Winter.  I need to turn on lights before the sun goes down or all I want to do is go to bed—even though it may only be 4:30 PM.  I tend to eat more, just as a bear would do prior to hibernation.  There are special lights which are more like natural light which one can use, but I find that just keeping my normal lights burning brightly helps me enough to get through a normal day. 


    If your loved one is displaying behavior such as described above, I would strongly recommend that you try putting on more lights during the day and into the evening.  My second recommendation is to speak with your doctor; there may be medications that can help.  One can live with SAD; just realize it is not something that is “in the head”.  It is very real and must be treated as such.  I believe that the Cymbalta I take has helped me with SAD, though it wasn’t given to me for that purpose.  The Cymbalta has seemed to take some of the edge off of my reaction to the loss of light brought on with the Fall season.


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    You know, I started out this blog wondering why I haven’t been able to get into writing again—now that I think about it, perhaps it’s SAD that is preventing me from getting on with my writing.  It would make sense… Guess I’d better put on more lights!

Published On: November 19, 2008