Do you know a sundowning senior who needs help? During the late afternoon and evening, a senior with dementia may find they start to feel more anxious or restless. Dementia sundowning is something that’s far more common than you may realize.

Still, the good news is that there are certain actions you can take to improve their quality of life and make managing home care assistance easier.

Keep reading to discover some of the best ways to handle dementia care.

1) Listen to What They’re Saying

No matter how challenging it can be to provide hourly care for a family member or friend with dementia, you must do your best to remain patient and listen to their words. Sometimes there are hidden emotions behind what they are trying to say, especially when making unusual requests.

Often, what they say is a way of expressing their loneliness or fear, which are common issues for sundowning seniors. Anger and frustration are also frequently expressed through other statements.

Still, by listening carefully, you’ll be able to find ways to calm them down and understand what they are experiencing.


2) Reduce Noise and Clutter Around the House

Noise, clutter, and too many people can all aggravate a sundowning senior with dementia. Do your best to reduce distractions and minimize the visual stress this may cause your loved one.

Home care assistance starts by making your loved one’s environment easier to manage. We recommend keeping the number of family members and friends to a minimum during this time.

This step can only increase their anxiety and stress levels when too many people try to talk at once.


3) Find a Simple Task to Distract Them

Distraction techniques are a good way to help a sundowning senior. We recommend offering them a snack or drink they particularly enjoy or finding them a TV show they love watching repeatedly.

Some people find that a simple task such as folding a towel can help at this time, as it will take their mind off the time of the day.

Whatever you do, avoid anything like watching the news on TV. This programming can increase their anxiety and decrease their chance of relaxing and having a good night’s sleep.

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4) Plan Early Evening Quiet Time

The early evening must be a quiet time for in-home senior care, who will appreciate getting into a routine at this time of the day.

What they enjoy doing may vary based on their interests, but going for a walk or listening to some calming music are great options.

Others may enjoy reading or talk to a familiar friend on the phone. Finding an activity that feels very soothing will help you prevent sundowning symptoms and retain control during this time.


5) Engage in Light Exercise

One of the most common reasons for feeling restless in the late afternoon and early evening is becoming too tired. The best way to avoid this is to get outside or sit by a window to get some exposure to bright light.

It would be best if you encouraged a sundowning senior to do daily physical activity to prevent these symptoms, which can be as simple as taking a gentle walk.

Make sure they are getting enough sleep at night-time as well. While seniors can rest during the day, ensure their naps are short and don’t fall too late in the afternoon.


6) Monitor Your Room Lighting

One of the best ways to prevent sundowning symptoms in the daytime is to let in as much natural light as possible. When it comes to the evening, it’s time to switch to softer room lighting.

Consider installing inexpensive smart lightbulbs that can automate when the lighting changes. These simple switches can make a huge difference to how the home looks and feels, relaxing them as you head into the early evening.

Private home care is one solution that can help you monitor ambient light. Caregivers can follow a daily routine to make the transition to evenings much smoother.

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7) Create a Safe Space at Home

Your home should always feel like a safe space, which is even more important for dementia patients. Try to create a safe space where your family member will be free to walk around without tripping over any obstructions.

A sundowning senior will often feel restless, so they may want to pace around the living room. You could even secure the backyard during the summer months, so long as you can keep an eye on them from where you are sitting inside.

Some people will also prefer to have you walk with them, which helps them feel more secure and less lonely during this time. Live-in care services can provide companionship in these difficult times.


8) Follow a Pre-Bedtime Routine

Everyone could benefit from a pre-bedtime routine, and this is no truer than for in-home senior care.

It’s hard to go from doing normal daytime activities to switching off your mind to sleep. Make sure you stack a few calming activities that will help them make this transition.

Start by switching off any music and TV shows that are too noisy and consider using a relaxing room spray around the home. Everyone has a different activity they’ll enjoy before bed. Reading and other quiet activities are a good way to help relax as part of pre-bedtime private home care.


Key Takeaways

These are just a few of the best ways to handle a sundowning senior with dementia.

Patience is always necessary during the more challenging times. These tips we’ve shared above can help you to make your loved one feel safe and secure during this time.

Remember that you may want to seek medical advice if you are particularly struggling with this time. There may be other underlying reasons for these symptoms. Fortunately, our 24/7 elderly care team can support you with any questions about dementia. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today for further information.


If you have questions about taking care of a senior in your life, get in touch with us today!

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Minute Women Home Care is a premium, non-medical, live-in care service provider that enables our clients to live at home with dignity and respect by assisting with their activities of daily living. We support families in their mission to allow their parents to age in place rather than transition to a nursing facility.

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