When older adults have dementia, they may experience something called sundowning. Sundowning is an increase in the confusion that occurs later in the afternoon and into the nighttime hours. When a senior is sundowning, they might pace, become aggressive, feel anxious, or ignore the directions caregivers give them.
Doctors don’t know just what makes some older adults with dementia experience sundowning. However, some things that are believed to play a part are:
- Reduced light.
- More shadows.
- An interference with the body’s “internal clock.”
- Trouble knowing what is real and what is a dream.
Dealing with sundowning can be extremely difficult. There’s no way to treat the problem, but there are things that can be done to reduce the behavior and make the older adult more comfortable. Below are 5 ways to reduce sundowning.
#1: Increase Lighting
Turning on more lights in the afternoon and evening can help with disruptions in the sleep-wake cycle. The brighter lighting will also reduce shadows in the house, which can be confusing or frightening. You may also wish to try light therapy where the older adult is exposed to more sunlight during the day or sits near a sun lamp for a few hours each morning.
#2: Increase Activity During the Day
Keeping the older adult busier during the day can make them more tired at night, enabling them to fall asleep more easily. Try taking them for a walk or doing activities around the house, like inviting them to help with household tasks, work in the garden, or make crafts. Also, try to keep them from napping during the day as much as possible.
#3: Change the Way They Eat
Eating a large meal close to bedtime can make them uncomfortable and unable to sleep. Keep evening meals small or just serve a large snack. In addition, avoid caffeine and alcohol, which can increase agitation.
#4: Reduce Commotion
Keep the house quieter at night. Turn off the television. People with dementia sometimes confuse what is happening on the screen with real life, which can sometimes be frightening. Switch to calming activities, like listening to soothing music or reading.
#5: Treat Underlying Conditions
If you suspect the sundowning is happening because of an underlying condition that makes the senior uncomfortable, such as a urinary tract infection, talk to their doctor. Sometimes clearing up the condition will also reduce or stop sundowning.
If you struggle to care for your aging relative when they are sundowning, elder care can provide assistance and reinforcements. An elder care provider can allow you to take a break from the nightly challenge by taking over care duties while you do something else. An elder care provider can also just be present with family caregivers to help them with the added difficulty presented by sundowning. During the day, an elder care provider can assist with light therapy and keep the senior active so they are tired at night.
If you or an aging loved-one are considering hiring Home Care Services in Ardmore, PA, please contact the friendly staff at Suma Home Care.
Call today: (484) 206-4544