8 Ways to Address Sundowning in Older Adults

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Dementia caregivers often have to manage challenging behaviors that can arise during the course of their senior loved one’s disease. One of these behaviors is known as sundowning, which is characterized by sudden mood swings, increased restlessness, and confusion during the late afternoon and evening. The exact cause of sundowning is not known, and the trigger may vary from person to person. Even if you cannot completely prevent sundowning, you can minimize the severity of the symptoms by taking the following steps. 

1. Create a Quiet Environment 

Too much sensory stimulation can increase confusion and anxiety. As you head into the late afternoon and evening, limit noise and reduce the number of people in the room. You can also encourage your loved one to try a soothing activity such as reading or listening to music.

If your senior loved one has been diagnosed with a serious condition and needs help with tasks like meal prep, transportation, bathing, and grooming, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of home care Pembroke Pines, FL, families can trust. We also offer comprehensive care for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.

2. Minimize Shadows

As the sun sets, the changes in light and shadows can be confusing and frightening for seniors with dementia, leading to increased anxiety. Minimize shadows by closing curtains and blinds and turning on extra lights. 

3. Provide a Distraction 

Redirecting your loved one to a favorite or familiar activity may reduce anxiety and channel his or her energy appropriately. Eating a favorite snack, watching TV, or performing simple tasks such as folding towels can distract seniors during episodes of sundowning. 

4. Structure Activities

Try to schedule strenuous tasks such as bathing, dressing, and outings earlier in the day. Individuals with dementia often find comfort in performing familiar activities, so try to keep to a regular routine as much as possible. 

If your aging loved one needs occasional help with bathing, grooming, cooking, or other basic household tasks, or if you need time to attend to important personal matters, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of live-in and respite care. Pembroke Pines seniors can maintain their independence while living at home with the help of our reliable respite caregivers.

5. Reset the Body Clock

Sunlight and physical activity have a powerful effect on the body’s internal clock. A simple walk around the block in the morning can help your loved one feel more alert early in the day so he or she can relax and sleep better in the evening. 

6. Ensure a Good Night’s Sleep 

If your loved one naps, try to keep them short and early in the day so he or she will still want to sleep at bedtime. You should also avoid serving your loved one caffeinated or alcoholic drinks since they can intensify confusion and interfere with sleep. 

7. Try Alternative Therapies

Various natural remedies can alleviate depression and anxiety that exacerbate sundowning. Aromatherapy, massage, and acupuncture often prove calming and reassuring to individuals with dementia. Not every person with dementia will respond in the same way to these therapies, so you may have to try several approaches before you find one that works for your loved one. 

8. Consult a Doctor

A doctor can determine if pain, a sleep disorder, illness, or medication side effects may be contributing to your loved one’s symptoms. In some cases, medications can be prescribed to promote relaxation and sleep.

Dementia is a serious health concern that impacts a senior’s health, wellbeing, and overall quality of life. If your elderly loved one is living with a serious medical condition and needs help managing the tasks of daily living, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a Pembroke Pines elderly care agency you can trust. Our caregivers are available 24/7, there are no hidden fees in our contracts, and we offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee on all of our in-home care services. To schedule a free in-home consultation, give us a call at (954) 374-8273 today.