Many older adults simply accept depression as another side effect of aging, and they may not realize that there can be more than life events affecting their mood. In fact, one aspect of treating depression could be as easy as increasing one’s exposure to sunlight and consuming foods that are fortified with vitamin D.
Recently, several studies have shown a link between low blood levels of vitamin D and depression in the elderly. The following strategies presented by Home Care Assistance of Omaha can help to prevent a deficiency among older adults while staving off related depression.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Vitamin D deficiency is more common in obese patients with a Body Mass Index of 30 or greater. Therefore, older adults who fall into this category may benefit from following a diet and exercise plan designed to fit their needs.
Schedule Regular Physical Exams
There are several health conditions that can interfere with the body’s ability to produce and absorb vitamin D. Kidney dysfunction, Crohn’s disease and cystic fibrosis can all have an impact upon a person’s intestine being able to absorb vitamin D. In addition to identifying these health conditions early, a physician can test a senior’s blood levels to find and treat a deficiency before it causes severe symptoms.
Eat Foods Rich in Vitamin D
In an effort to reduce the risk of heart disease, many seniors cut out foods that are rich in vitamin D. However, there are several heart-healthy options available such as lean fish, low-fat milk and orange juice. Senior adults may also benefit from taking vitamin supplements to boost their vitamin D levels.
Practice Safe Sunlight Exposure
Researchers believe that one of the largest contributing factors to increasing numbers of seniors who are vitamin D deficient is a lack of exposure to sunlight. Although sunscreen is important for preventing skin damage, it can block the beneficial rays of the sun that are needed for the body to use vitamin D. Seniors can safely spend time in the sun by minimizing their time outdoors, going out in the early evening or morning hours and by wearing lightweight clothing to cover sensitive areas of their skin.
Along with making sure that your loved one gets an adequate amount of vitamin D, it is important that your loved one is maintaining their social relationships whether with friends in person or via the internet. Staying engaged with others is another great way to combat feelings of loneliness and depression and can go a long way in creating a positive outlook for seniors.
Learn more about the benefits of companionship for seniors and contact Home Care Assistance of Omaha today. Our professional and compassionate Lincoln caregivers are loving companions who can provide emotional support to their clients, while also helping with daily activities and making sure they maintain healthy habits at home. Request more information or a free consultation today by calling 402-763-9140 – we’re here to help 24/7.