Following the busyness of the holidays, it is not unusual for the winter gloom to emerge. Yet what may appear at first glance to be a bit of boredom could in fact be something much more serious that needs to be addressed, and you will want to ask yourself: Is it anhedonia?
Anhedonia is a loss of interest in activities that someone once liked and is a symptom of depression that is regularly overlooked in older loved ones. Anhedonia displays through symptoms such as:
- A need to self-isolate and steer clear of social activities and relationships
- Negative feelings directed at either other people or themselves
- A reduction in emotional abilities
It is always a good idea to talk to the doctor if you recognize any signs of depression in an older loved one. Effective treatment solutions are available. Additionally, there are things family caregivers can do to help, too.
What Can You Do to Support a Senior Living With Anhedonia?
- Modify the diet. Foods that contain serotonin can help improve a person’s mood and counteract depression. Add in more mood-improving foods such as fruit, whole-grain bread, dark chocolate, yogurt, and spinach.
- Encourage exercise. Exercise is an additional way to enhance mood through the production of feel-good hormones. Bring the grandchildren over to play, go to the gym for a class or to go swimming, or simply take a walk together.
- Improve sleep habits. Sleep deficiency and anhedonia can play off one another in a cycle of anxiety, fatigue, and lack of motivation. Develop and adhere to a regular sleep schedule, have a light dinner and then switch off the TV and devices, and end the day with calming activities such as reading a book, listening to music, or working on a puzzle.
- Socialize more. This one could be challenging, as anhedonia affects a person’s desire to be around others. Figure out what types of social settings might feel less intimidating to the person: signing up for a class, joining a group at their place of worship, regular coffee or lunch get-togethers with a good friend or neighbor, etc.
- Emphasize the positives. Reminiscing is a good activity for a loved one with anhedonia, allowing the person to talk about fond memories. Browse photo albums, scrapbooks, or videos together and ask the person to share with you funny tales from the past. It can also help to keep a journal of any happy moments that occur each day, in spite of how insignificant they could seem. At the conclusion of every week, look back through the journal together to observe how many positives there actually are in our everyday lives.
It is also a good idea to suggest professional counseling, providing the chance for the person to talk with a therapist on a routine basis and to learn coping tools to help. And, always try to be as supportive and empathetic as you possibly can. This may be challenging with someone who seems to be negative all the time, but it’s extremely important to let an older loved one know you are there with them regardless of their mood.
How Can Home Care Help?
An in-home care provider is an excellent resource for a senior loved one dealing with anhedonia. We are able to provide:
- Companionship for exercising, engaging activities, conversations, and enhanced socialization
- Meal planning and preparation, using healthy, serotonin-rich foods
- Transportation to medical appointments or fun outings
- And more
Reach out to Inspired Home Care, a provider of home and memory care in Buffalo Grove and the surrounding areas, at 847-787-7572 for more information on how in-home care services can enrich life for someone you love.