Sundowning is a common symptom among seniors living with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. This symptom is characterized by a sudden and dramatic change in behavior that can include confusion, suspicion, and irritability, and it can eventually escalate into a state of delirium. Here are several things you can do to prevent sundowning in your senior loved one.
Keep the Schedule Consistent
Changes in your loved one’s schedule, especially if they occur later in the afternoon or at night, could be a trigger for unpredictable behavior. It’s important for aging adults with Alzheimer’s or dementia to have solid and predictable routines. Try to limit visitors in the evening hours, and make sure your loved one has a set bedtime.
Limit Daytime Naps
Too much sleep throughout the day can leave a senior with dementia feeling overenergized when bedtime rituals occur. Try to limit naps to the mid-morning, and make sure your loved one gets sufficient exercise early in the day, even if it’s only a leisurely stroll. This strategy increases the chances of your loved one being ready for deep and restful sleep at an appropriate hour.
Sundowning can be one of the most challenging aspects of aging for elderly people with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Seniors can face a variety of challenges as they age, many of which can be mitigated with the help of professional in-home caregivers who provide high-quality senior home care. Castle Rock families trust Home Care Assistance to help their elderly loved ones age in place safely and comfortably.
Reduce Stimuli in the Afternoon
Start winding things down in the home as early as possible. Turn down the radio or TV, and mute cell phones and the home phone to prevent jarring noises in the evening. Too much stimuli at any time of day can be disconcerting for seniors with dementia, and it can also trigger a sundowning episode. It’s also a good idea to have a bedtime ritual that starts just before the sun sets. This is the perfect time to read to your loved one, engage in quiet activities, or draw a warm, soothing bath for him or her. Close the curtains or blinds and turn on a soft, muted light to keep your loved one from being distracted or overstimulated by outside activities. You can also try playing soothing music to further set the stage for sleep.
Encourage Good Eating Habits
Serve your loved one a big lunch and a smaller meal at dinnertime. Larger meals can increase agitation and keep your loved one up well into the night. Try to avoid serving your loved one sweets and caffeine unless you do so during the late morning and early afternoon. Limiting your loved one’s evening food intake may make him or her feel more comfortable at night and rest easier.
It may be challenging for a family caregiver to prevent a loved one’s sundowning symptoms, and a professional caregiver can be a great source of support. Not every senior has the same care needs, which means they don’t all need the same type of homecare. You can rely on Home Care Assistance to provide an individualized care plan to meet your elderly loved one’s unique care needs. Our holistic Balanced Care Method was designed to help seniors focus on healthy lifestyle habits, such as eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and maintaining strong social ties, and our Cognitive Therapeutics Method offers mentally stimulating activities that can stave off cognitive decline and delay the onset of dementia.
Relax During the Afternoon & Evening
Many family caregivers are anxious to tire their loved ones out. However, taking your loved one on a brisk afternoon walk to exhaust his or her energy could have the opposite effect. After lunch and as the day draws to a close, the best activities to engage your loved one in are those that are relaxing and comforting.
If your loved one is at risk for sundowning due to dementia or Alzheimer’s, he or she may need a higher level of care than a family member can provide. Dementia can be challenging for seniors to manage, but they can maintain a higher quality of life with the help of professional dementia care. Castle Rock seniors can benefit greatly from the Cognitive Therapeutics Method (CTM), an activities-based program designed to promote cognitive health and delay the onset of dementia. CTM is included at no additional charge with any of the in-home care plans provided by Home Care Assistance. Reach out to one of our Care Managers today at 720-580-5378 to learn more about our high-quality home care services.