For homebound seniors, a daily check-in from Queens Community House helps fight the Sunshine Blues

April 25, 2019

While many Queens residents will spend this weekend reveling in pink blossoms and sunshine, thousands of homebound seniors will remain indoors, removed from picnics, family outings and much-needed Vitamin D.  As a result, seasonal depression, termed ‘sunshine blues’ in spring, may rear its gloomy head.

“Springtime depression is a serious issue for many homebound older adults,” says Blanca Goris, Queens Community House’s Director of Senior Case Management. “People typically associate seasonal depression with the dark, cold days of winter, but there are spring-specific triggers as well.”

According to an Institute on Aging blog post, “Social factors can play a huge role in a loved one's happiness during spring. If an older adult suffers from reduced mobility, for example, seeing all the fun and physical activities their family starts in springtime could make them feel isolated and ‘out of the loop.’ Spring is a reminder that their body has limitations, and can bring more attention to aging than any other time of year.”

Because melatonin levels naturally lower during spring and summer, it can be more difficult for older adults to achieve adequate rest—and sunshine pouring in early doesn't help. This circadian disruption can affect diet, hormones and activity level, putting older adults at an even higher risk of depression.

“Depression and its causes are unique to every older adult, so we train our staff to carefully observe for symptoms,” said Goris, who oversees QCH’s sixteen-person Case Management team.  “Our Home Delivered Meals program, for example, provides more than a nutritious meal each day. A daily check-in from our deliverer makes it easier for us to identify signs of depression, and in some cases, ward it off altogether. Personal interaction with a friendly and familiar face can make a huge difference in a home-bound senior's day."

Queens Community House currently serves nearly 800 homebound older adults through home delivered meals, friendly visiting services, housekeeping or home care referrals, transportation, bill paying and housing support, and more. These services are key to helping older adults "age in place" in their longtime communities. To learn more about enrolling yourself or a loved one, please call (718) 268-1412 or email bgoris@qchnyc.org.

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