How Can I Lessen the Effects of Sundowning on My Senior Loved One?

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Can I Lessen the Effects of Sundowning on My Senior Loved One in Des Moines, IA

Sundowning is a fairly common symptom of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, and it can make evenings very difficult for seniors and their families. This symptom often results in a variety of behavioral problems that tend to get worse as the sun goes down. To manage your senior loved one’s sundowning, you might need to come up with a comprehensive plan that includes altering his or her daily routine and making some minor changes to your household. 

Stick to a Strict Schedule

Following a strict routine can be difficult for some seniors with Alzheimer’s, but you should try to stick to a schedule if you want to reduce your loved one’s sundowning. Some experts believe sundowning is the result of hormonal problems, and following a routine can help the body produce and regulate key hormones, such as serotonin and melatonin. 

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. Des Moines seniors can benefit from assistance with meal prep, bathing, transportation to the doctor’s office, medication reminders, and much more.

Try Light Therapy

According to a recent study published in Psychiatric Investigation, light therapy might be a good option for those who are experiencing sundowning. Each morning, you can have your loved one sit a few feet away from a full-spectrum fluorescent light for at least an hour or two. This can be done while eating breakfast, reading the newspaper, or watching a television show. 

Close the Shades

One of the most common triggers for sundowning is a sudden change in lighting. A few minutes before the sun goes down, close all the shades and curtains so there aren’t any moving shadows or lights. You might also want to remove decorative mirrors and other reflective objects that create shadows inside the home. 

Minimize Clutter

Processing visual information is extremely difficult for many seniors who have dementia or Alzheimer’s, which is one of the reasons some seniors become irritated when there’s clutter on the floor or they’re in a crowded room. Picking up clutter each afternoon could minimize your loved one’s sundowning, and it’s a perfect chore for older adults who want to feel useful.

Monitor Their Diet

While most foods and beverages aren’t going to trigger sundowning, some products might make the symptoms much more severe. Two of the worst offenders are caffeine and alcohol, and those products should be restricted or completely removed from your loved one’s diet. Sugary foods that spike energy levels also need to be avoided as much as possible. 

It may be challenging to create the most nutritious meal plans for your loved one, 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 elderly 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.

Encourage Outdoor Activities

Engaging in vigorous outdoor activities each day is one of the best ways to balance hormones and enhance circadian rhythms. Sunlight triggers the production of vitamin D, which can enhance sleep quality. Some of the outdoor activities your loved one might enjoy include going on short walks around the block, playing with a pet, and doing some light gardening.

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 elder care. Des Moines home care 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 home care for your loved one. Call one of our friendly Care Managers today at (515) 264-2438.


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