Coping with seasonal affective disorder in the nursing home | I Advance Senior Care Skip to content Skip to navigation

Coping with seasonal affective disorder in the nursing home

October 24, 2011
| Reprints

When I was growing up I became listless and tired every fall. For many years I thought it had something to do with school starting again. But when school was over I knew that was not the case.

My first fall in a nursing facility brought on my usual feelings of tiredness. One day I struck up a conversation with a nurse and she shared that she suffered from the same symptoms. She told me it was seasonal affective disorder or SAD. I was surprised that there was an actual name for something that I have been going through most of my life.

She told me that studies had been done showing that light therapy used on patients suffering from SAD could actually help the situation. Back then she wished she had the funding to set up a light therapy group in the facility—she was certain that SAD affected many residents.

Since then I have read many articles about SAD. I also have developed some ways of coping with seasonal affective disorder:

I make sure I get enough sleep.

I do not take extended naps that might affect my night’s sleep.

I have plenty of light in my room during the day, especially when it is dark and rainy outside.

I go out as much as I can to get some daylight. Even 10 minutes a day is beneficial.

Every fall I remember those conversations with the facility nurse and wonder if light therapy would benefit me. I know that I am definitely considering it as I get older. My concern would be the limited space in my room for the lighting apparatus and how my roommate might react to it.

Kathleen Mears


Kathleen Mears is a long-time blogger who has been a nursing home resident for 21 years. She is...



I have never heard of SAD. Or "light therapy." But it makes perfect sense.

This is probably why a majority of elderly people move to Florida or other Southern states (Arizona, Nevada, etc.) in their later years. Or, if they are wealthy enough, they spend six months of the year in a Southern state. Not only does the sunshine warm their bones (much like people with disabilities need... like myself) but the amount of sunshine throughout the year is well over 300 days per year.

I remember when I lived in the Northeast... I dreaded the drab, blah, cloudy days that are typical for northern states or even Midwest states. I couldn't wait for summer each year.

I now live in southeastern Arizona whereby we have over 340 days a year of sunshine and warmth and I love it! A drab, cloudy day is very rare. I must agree, "light" (especially natural late) does wonders for anyone's mood!