Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia can be a scary syndrome to handle. According to the World Health Organization, there are more than 55 million older adults who have dementia. Once your loved one has mid-stage to advanced dementia, they may start to experience sundowning, as known as “late-day confusion”. It is a symptom which manifests as agitation and confusion during the late afternoon and evening. Knowing how difficult it can be to go through dementia, we would like to help your loved ones and lessen the effects of such a symptom. Learn how you can help reduce dementia sundowning in seniors.
Create a Routine
Dementia can cause your loved ones to react to unfamiliar things or activities with confusion, anger, and stress. These negative feelings can exaggerate the effects of sundowning. Create a familiar routine for your loved one to stick to. This can help comfort them and give them a sense of calmness. Try to avoid making changes if possible and if you have to, gradually introduce small changes at a time.
Adjust the Lights
One of the possible triggers of sundowning is the disturbance in the circadian rhythm, or sleep cycle, in your loved ones. Changing the light situation in their home can help to reduce their symptoms. Research conducted by the Psychiatry Investigation have shown that light therapy can reduce confusion and agitation. This can be achieved by placing a full-spectrum florescent lamp about 3 feet from your loved ones within their visual field. Leave the lamp on for a couple hours in the morning while they are doing their daily activities or watching television. The Alzheimer’s Association has also suggested to brighten the lights at home to get your loved one’s sleep cycle in check.
Modify Their Eating Habits
Changing your loved one’s eating habits can also help reduce the effects of sundowning. Avoiding giving them heavy dinners as it can cause indigestion and keep them up at night. Substitute it for a light meal to help them sleep better at night. It is also encouraged to limit the intake of stimulants like soda, caffeine, and alcohol especially nearing the end of the day.
Minimize Their Stress
Help reduce the stress your loved one might feel during the evening. Keep them occupied with activities that they are familiar with and enjoy. This can calm their nerves and make them feel comfortable about their current situation. Consider playing ambient music in the background to create a calming environment. Snuggles with the family pet are also great for increasing serotonin levels and reducing anxiety.
For those with dementia, the world can be increasingly scary for them. Familiarity and comfort in life can help them cope with their struggles. Fill your loved one’s home with items that they can seek solace in. This can come in the form of framed family pictures or a weighted blanket to keep them comfy. In the case that they move to an assisted living community, being surrounded by such comforting items can help ease the transition and reduce the chances of experiencing sundowning.