If you care for a senior with dementia, you may notice that his or her confusion gets worse in the late afternoon and evening. This is “late-day confusion” is known as sundowning and occurs in mid-stage to advanced dementia. Sundowning is definitely stressful for a senior with dementia and his or her loved ones as well. However, there are things you can do to reduce sundowning’s symptoms. With these tips, you’ll ensure more comfortability for the senior in your life and promote a happy environment for everyone involved.
When it comes to minimizing stress, calm activities are definitely the key. Do simple fun things with seniors that aren’t too frustrating or scary. This could be anything from baking cookies together or watching a family-friendly movie. Challenging activities, on the other hand, can intensify the confusion and irritability that results from sundowning.
Large meals late in the day can increase the effects of sundowning and may even keep seniors up night. So, have them eat at a light meal at a reasonable time! An hour between 5pm and 6pm should definitely be alright. Also, opt for water instead of alcohol or caffeinated beverages, since these can increase agitation later in the day. Instead of a big dessert, choose a light snack like a fruit cup. It will give the senior some comfort before going to bed.
Fill your elderly loved ones home, hospital or assisted living facility with familiar faces, trinkets and treasures. Familiarity will ultimately help ease confusion associated with sundowning. Whether you decorate the senior’s space with his or her favorite blanket, family photos or travel souvenirs, you’ll make the him or her feel more comfortable while navigating a difficult disease like dementia.
Keep track of when your loved one’s sundowning episodes in a journal or smartphone. It will help you identify your loved one’s triggers and look for patterns. This will help you determine which activities and environments make the senior in your life’s confusion worse. Don’t worry! With time, it will get easier to prevent the agitated behavior.
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