Sundowning isn’t an official health condition. Instead, it represents a collection of behaviors older adults tend to exhibit toward the end of the day. Confusion, agitation, and delusions increase when a senior is sundowning. Watching for your aging loved one’s patterns helps you know when to use these tips to address his or her behavior.
1. Watch for Common Triggers
The things that trigger sundowning behaviors can vary from one senior to the next. Some seniors act out more when they’re tired. Others may do so out of boredom or having too much energy. Keep a caregiver journal to jot down notes about what’s happening when your loved one begins to exhibit sundowning behaviors. After a few days, you might be able to identify triggers you can avoid.
If your loved one’s sundowning is due to dementia or Alzheimer’s, he or she may need a higher level of care than a family member 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. Huntsville seniors can benefit from assistance with meal prep, bathing, transportation to the doctor’s office, medication reminders, and much more.
2. Maintain a Predictable Routine
Sundowning can occur during other times of the day besides the evening. Following routines helps seniors make sense out of what’s happening. A senior who is nonverbal might not be able to tell you he or she is hungry or tired, which could cause him or her to act out more. Sticking to regular times for waking up, eating meals, and going to bed helps your loved one maintain a sense of control.
3. Increase Sun Exposure During the Day
Some theories suggest sundowning might be affected by the body’s natural circadian rhythms. Exposure to sunlight during the day can keep these rhythms functioning properly. As your loved one’s body recognizes the difference between night and day, he or she may make a smoother transition to the evening hours.
4. Find the Right Amount of Time for Naps
Napping too late in the day or for too long might cause your loved one to feel more energized in the evening, and this can turn into a sense of nervousness when he or she knows bedtime is drawing near. On the other hand, a senior who is too tired might begin to act out in an effort to stay awake. Experiment with naps during the day to find the best time and the right amount of rest to help your loved one make it through the evening without feeling overwhelmed.
5. Limit Caffeine & Sugar in the Afternoon
These stimulants cause reactions within the body that can generate a sense of agitation and anxiety. If your loved one enjoys having a cup of tea or coffee, try to make sure he or she has it around lunchtime. Sweets should also be kept to a minimum.
It may be challenging for a family caregiver to identify the reasons for a loved one’s sundowning symptoms, and a professional caregiver can be a great source of support. Not every senior has the same care needs, which means they don’t all need the same type of senior home care. You 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.
6. Reduce Stimulation in the Evening
You can set the tone for a relaxing evening by turning off things that may be overstimulating. Listening to a television blaring in the background might set your loved one on edge while trying to eat dinner or getting ready for bed. Try switching to relaxing music, which can have a positive effect on your loved one’s mood.
7. Watch Your Stress Levels
Seniors with dementia often watch their caregivers for cues about how to feel and behave. Your stress could cause your loved one to sense something’s wrong. Try to take time out for yourself during the day so you’re not overwhelmed in the evening hours. A second caregiver can also help you manage challenging behaviors if your loved one’s sundowning increases in severity.
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 elderly home care. Huntsville families trust Home Care Assistance to help their elderly loved ones age in place safely and comfortably. Call Home Care Assistance today at (256) 716-9940 to learn about our high-quality in-home care services.