How to Ease the Effects of Sundowning on a Senior Loved One

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Seniors with dementia often exhibit a behavior referred to as sundowning, which increases agitation and wandering. You can use these tips to ease your aging loved one’s sundowning symptoms so you both enjoy your time together.

Track Changes in Behavior

Most seniors with Alzheimer’s have certain times during each day when they’re at their best, and you should also know that sundowning can occur at any point during the day or night. Start by noticing when your loved one’s challenging behaviors tend to increase. Once you identify a pattern, you can take extra measures during those times to keep him or her calm. 

If your loved one’s sundowning is due to dementia or Alzheimer’s, he or she may need a higher level of care than you can provide. Living with a serious health condition can make it challenging for seniors to age in place. However, they can maintain a higher quality of life with the help of professional live-in care. Waterloo, IA, seniors can benefit from assistance with meal prep, bathing, transportation to the doctor’s office, medication reminders, and much more.

Increase Exposure to Light

Although no one is certain why sundowning occurs, one theory is that it has something to do with disruptions regarding circadian rhythms. You can keep your loved one’s body clock on target by making sure he or she gets enough sunlight during the day. If necessary, consider using light therapy for times when your loved one is indoors or unable to go outside. Even adding more normal lighting to your loved one’s living space may boost his or her mood.

Make Dietary Adjustments

Seniors who eat large meals may experience more agitation if they’re uncomfortable or experiencing stomach pain. Your loved one’s symptoms are also more likely to escalate if he or she consumes alcohol or caffeine. Sensitive seniors may also have behavioral changes due to other ingredients such as dyes in their food. Experiment with serving smaller meals or omitting caffeine to see if any of these strategies help your loved one feel better in the evenings. 

It may be challenging to know how to create the most nutritious meal plans that suit your loved one’s needs best, and a professional caregiver can definitely be a great help. Not every senior has the same care needs, which means they don’t all need the same type of home care. Waterloo, Iowa, families can rely on Home Care Assistance to provide individualized care plans 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.

Establish Soothing Routines

If you know your loved one is going to be agitated in the evenings, do your best to avoid stirring him or her up. For instance, you may need to turn off the television if your loved one gets confused trying to follow the plot of a show or the news makes him or her worry. Instead, plan activities that calm your loved one down, such as listening to a favorite song or enjoying a hand massage. If you do these soothing things each evening, your loved one will eventually recognize it as a time to unwind.

Look for a Fixable Cause

You might not be able to change your loved one’s diagnosis, but there are still many things you can do to ease his or her agitation. For instance, your loved one may try to wander when hungry, and having a caregiver available to make a snack is all it takes to keep him or her indoors. Alternatively, your loved one may get agitated if he or she is cold or bored before going to sleep, and all that’s needed is just some additional comfort such as a blanket. Identifying the causes you can fix may help you feel more in control over your loved one’s symptoms.

Sundowning can be one of the most challenging aspects of aging, particularly 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. Waterloo, IA, families trust Home Care Assistance to help their elderly loved ones age in place safely and comfortably. Reach out to us at Home Care Assistance if you need compassionate, professional care for your loved one. Call one of our dedicated Care Managers today at 319-260-2222 to learn about the high quality of our in-home care services.

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