Seniors with Alzheimer’s often experience sundowning, or feeling confused, agitated, and disoriented from late in the afternoon until late evening or bedtime. Sundowning can be difficult for both seniors and their family caregivers to go through. It’s difficult for caregivers to keep seniors calm when they are upset but can’t verbalize why they are upset. And it’s stressful for seniors to be unable to communicate their needs. 24-hour home care providers can help seniors with Alzheimer’s and their family caregivers deal with sundowning.
Since sundowning affects most seniors who have Alzheimer’s or dementia to a certain degree it’s something that 24-hour home care providers are trained to deal with. They have experience as well as tips and tricks learned from years on the job to help family caregivers that are struggling with sundowning.
According to 24-hour home care providers, some things family caregivers can do to help seniors who are sundowning are:
Make Sure Their Needs Are Met
One of the things that family caregivers can do that might make the sundowning less severe is to make sure that their senior loved one’s physical care needs are met. Around 4 PM it’s a good idea for caregivers to take their senior loved one to the bathroom. Then get them a snack and a drink. After they have eaten and had a drink see if they want to take a little nap. Sometimes just making sure that they aren’t hungry or thirsty or tired can make a big difference.
Another way to lessen the impact of sundowning is to plan distractions for the late afternoon when sundowning usually begins. Put on some music and have a dance party. Or play some live music on the piano. You may want to go outside to enjoy some fresh air and sunshine. Anything you can do to get them out of the space where they usually are when the sundowning beings will help you redirect them.
Stick To A Schedule and Give Them A Task
Routine is very important to seniors with Alzheimer’s. Even when they don’t remember the routine their body will have muscle memory of their routine. They will know when it’s time to get up, when it’s time to go to bed, when it’s time to eat, and so on based on that schedule. So create a schedule for your senior parent and stick to it. If you have 24-hour home care make sure that the provider stays on that schedule too.
After dinner sundowning may get worse as bedtime gets closer and seniors become more disoriented. One thing you can do in that situation is give them a task to do. A simple repetitive task like folding towels or blankets can totally change their mood. Seniors like to feel like they are helping. So doing a chore that they recognize like folding clothes or towels can give them a sense of accomplishment and pride. They may tire themselves out doing the task and go to sleep easily when the task is complete.