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How to Reduce Your Senior Loved One’s Risk of Sundowning

By Debbie Waddell, 10:30 am on

Sundowning is a common concern among seniors in the middle stages of Alzheimer’s. This symptom is characterized by a sudden and dramatic change in behaviors that can include confusion, suspicion, and irritability and can eventually escalate into a state of delirium. Placer County, Folsom, and Granite Bay, CA, Alzheimer’s care experts suggest several things you can do to prevent sundowning in your senior loved one’s life.

Keep the Schedule Consistent

Changes in your loved one’s schedule, especially if they occur later in the afternoon or at night, could be a trigger for unpredictable behavior. During the middle stages of Alzheimer’s, it is important for aging adults to have solid and predictable routines. Try to limit visitors in the evening hours and make sure your loved one has a set bedtime.

Limit Daytime Naps

Too much sleep throughout the day can leave a senior with Alzheimer’s feeling over-energized when bedtime rituals occur. Try to limit naps to the mid-morning and make sure your loved one gets sufficient exercise early in the day, even if you only take a leisurely stroll. This strategy will increase the chances of your loved one being ready for deep and restful sleep at an appropriate hour.

Reduce Stimuli in the Afternoon

Start winding things down in the home as early as possible. Turn down the radio or TV and mute cell phones and the home phone to prevent jarring noises in the evening. Too much stimuli at any time of day can be disconcerting for seniors with Alzheimer’s, but it can also trigger a sundowning episode. It is also a good idea to have a bedtime ritual that starts just before the sun sets. This is the perfect time to read to your loved one, engage in quiet activities, or draw a warm, soothing bath. Close the curtains or blinds and turn on a soft, muted light to keep your loved one from being distracted or overstimulated by outside activities. You can also try playing soft, soothing music to further set the stage for sleep.

Relax During the Afternoon and Evening

Many family caregivers in Granite Bay, CA, are anxious to tire their loved ones out. However, taking your loved one on a brisk afternoon walk to exhaust his or her energy can actually have the opposite effect. After lunch and as the day draws to a close, the best activities to engage your loved one in are those that are relaxing and comforting.

Help your loved one maintain a high quality of life while managing Alzheimer’s symptoms by reaching out to Home Care Assistance. Our Alzheimer’s caregivers can engage your loved one in mentally stimulating activities with our Cognitive Therapeutics Method, and they can also assist with important daily tasks like exercise, bathing, and meal prep. For more information on the high-quality elderly care Granite Bay families trust and rely on, call one of our qualified Care Managers at 916.226.3737

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