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5 Methods for Managing Sundowning in Older Adults

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Sundowning includes a list of undesirable behaviors that occur in people with dementia during certain parts of the day. While your senior loved one cannot help this behavior, managing agitation and wandering may be frustrating for you as a caregiver. If your loved one is starting to exhibit these behaviors, try these strategies that are effective for managing sundowning in older adults.

1. Maintain Structure During the Day

Seniors with dementia do best when they have a regular schedule of events that happen during each day. Knowing what happens after breakfast or that they always brush their teeth after watching their favorite show may help them feel a sense of control and comfort. If a change needs to be introduced to your loved one’s routine, try to do it slowly so it’s less likely to be upsetting.

2. Limit Stimulants Toward the End of the Day

Coffee, tea, and alcohol are all stimulants that can influence your loved one’s behavior. Ideally, you should try to limit your loved one’s caffeine and alcohol intake as much as possible, since these can cause sundowning to occur earlier in the day. If your loved one insists on a morning cup of coffee or a glass of tea with dinner, try serving a weaker version of the beverage. Your loved one can still enjoy the flavor of decaffeinated coffee without experiencing side effects. 

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. Certain age-related conditions can make it more challenging for seniors to age in place safely and comfortably, but Roseville live-in care experts are available around the clock to help seniors manage their health. Whether your loved one is living with dementia or is recovering from a stroke, you can trust the professional live-in caregivers from Home Care Assistance to enhance his or her quality of life.

3. Try to Address the Cause of the Behavior

At first glance, it may seem as though your loved one’s agitation is coming from nowhere, especially if he or she is unable to communicate properly. However, something as simple as a shadow in the room could be causing your loved one to think someone else is there. Pay attention to your loved one’s behavior to identify a potential cause you can correct. Sometimes, just changing the lighting in the room or providing a warm blanket is all it takes to soothe anxiety. 

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. Roseville, CA, 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.

4. Redirect

Many behaviors arise out of boredom or frustration with a specific task. Try switching gears and encourage your loved one to engage in an activity he or she normally enjoys. Whether your loved one likes to listen to soft music or fold towels, a soothing activity may get his or her mind off whatever is causing the sundowning behaviors.

5. Recruit Help for Known Challenging Times

After a while, you should start to notice patterns in your loved one’s behavior. Most people with dementia exhibit behaviors in the evenings, but your loved one may also display them in the early morning when first waking up or around noon when his or her energy begins to wane. Arranging for a home caregiver to be with your loved one during those times gives you a break and an extra set of eyes to prevent issues such as wandering or aggressive behavior so you stay calm and your loved one remains safe.

It can be challenging for family caregivers to know how to manage their loved ones’ physical and cognitive needs, and trained caregivers can be a valuable resource. Not every senior has the same care needs, which means they don’t all need the same type of home care. Roseville, CA, 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. For compassionate, reliable in-home care, trust the experienced professionals from Home Care Assistance. Reach out to one of our dedicated Care Managers today at 916.226.3737 to learn about the high quality of our in-home care services.