The symptoms of dementia often worsen as the day turns into night. One of the most common of these symptoms is sundowning, and seniors who experience this syndrome may get aggressive, wander around, or become upset in the evening. Caregivers who want to reduce the severity of sundowning should consider the following tips.
1. Keep the Surroundings Calm
For some seniors, sundowning seems to occur because the home gets busier as people get off work and start cooking dinner. Keeping your loved one in a calm room without excessive stimuli can keep sundowning at bay. Try to find a quiet, cool place without a television or radio.
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2. Find Fun Distractions
If your loved one repeatedly tries to exit the home or engage in another undesirable behavior in the evening, consider keeping him or her distracted with a favorite TV show, play time with a pet, or an exercise.
3. Consider Aromatherapy
Soothing essential oils can help your loved one feel peaceful once the sun goes down. You can use scents like lavender, chamomile, ylang-ylang, and rose in a diffuser to spread the scent throughout the room.
4. Discuss Medications
If the sundowning is particularly bad, talk to your loved one’s doctor about a medical solution. There are anti-anxiety drugs and antidepressants that can keep a senior’s mood stable in the evening.
5. Monitor the Diet for Triggers
Track your loved one’s diet for a few days to see if he or she is eating something that is causing the issue. Consuming caffeine, sugar, or greasy foods may worsen sundowning symptoms. Not eating in the early evening can also be a trigger because low blood sugar can cause behavioral issues.
6. Stay Active During the Day
Make sure activities like appointments, social engagements, errands, and trips are all completed earlier in the day. These activities may tire your loved one out before the sun sets, and having a free schedule in the evening may prevent him or her from feeling overstimulated.
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7. Make the Indoors Bright
Sundowning is often linked to fluctuating hormone levels due to light exposure. Purchase a UV lamp and use bulbs with a bright white light to trick your loved one’s body clock into feeling like it is still daytime.
8. Maintain a Stable Routine
Seniors with dementia tend to get stressed out by any changes to their schedules and surroundings. You can reduce some of the evening upset by helping your loved one maintain a simple schedule. Always schedule things like dinner, medications, showers, and brushing teeth at the same time to help your loved one relax in the evenings.
Caring for older adults with dementia can be a challenging task. Families who find it difficult to care for their aging loved ones without assistance can benefit greatly from professional respite care. Naples, FL, family caregivers who need a break from their caregiving duties can turn to Home Care Assistance. Using our proprietary Balanced Care Method, our respite caregivers can encourage your loved one to eat well, exercise regularly, get plenty of mental and social stimulation, and focus on other lifestyle factors that promote longevity. To learn about our high-quality in-home care plans and how they can benefit your loved one, give us a call at (239) 449-4701 today.