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Sundown Syndrome and Senior Care - What You Should Know

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Sundown Syndrome and Senior Care - What You Should Know

By: Shawn Turcotte

Owner of Home Instead Senior Care Edmonton, CPCA

The effects of Daylight  Savings Time wreak havoc for those suffering from Sundown Syndrome.November 5th is just around the corner, bringing the end of Daylight Savings Time and the need to turn back our clocks an hour. For many, this is a minor change resulting in an extra hour of sleep in the morning. For those living with Alzheimer’s or dementia, and for their loved ones, the effects of Daylight Savings Time wreak havoc, especially for those suffering from Sundown Syndrome.

If you are not aware of Sundown Syndrome, it is defined by the Mayo Clinic as “…a state of confusion occurring in the late afternoon and spanning into the night.” Sundowning is not a disease by itself, but it is a group of symptoms occurring at a particular time of day that can affect those suffering from dementia. Basically, when our internal clock is messed with, it can cause problems with our sleep / wake cycles.

The shorter days brought on by the transition from fall to winter can make elderly patients struggle through their day’s schedule. Part of efficient senior care is maintaining routines. For example, having dinner at the same time every evening helps to keep your loved one on a routine. Yet, the loss of daylight and then turning the clocks back so that dinner is now at night instead of dusk can negatively affect dementia patients. While they may not be able to pinpoint what is going on, their internal clock knows that something is off.

Tips to Help Your Senior Cope with Sundown Syndrome

At Home Instead Senior Care Edmonton, we help patients remain in their own homes giving them a sense of familiarity and safety. If you have a senior suffering from sundowning, here are a few tips to help provide the best elder care especially as Daylight Savings Time ends:

  1. Avoid trying to explain what is going on. Your loved one will probably not remember what you say when you describe the concept of turning back the clocks.
  2. Keep your home well-lit and the atmosphere positive. Yes, the best light is natural light, but as the sun goes down earlier, the shadows become distorted, and colour may be overwhelming. Pull the curtains closed and turn on extra lights. Play some of your senior’s favourite music to help them keep calm.
  3. Plan low-key evening activities. Help your senior enjoy the evening hours with quiet, simple activities that do not create additional stimulation.
  4. Limit your senior’s daytime napping. Too much extra sleep can keep your loved one going later into the evening than they should.

Ease the effects of Sundown Syndrome during the transition from Daylight Savings time. Create a positive, soothing atmosphere for your elder charge to enjoy. Our goal at Home Instead Senior Care Edmonton is to serve families with loved ones suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia with the right respite care and support. Our CAREGivers are highly trained and ready to help your family enjoy what can otherwise be a stressful time.

Call us at 780.439.9990 to schedule a no-obligation consultation in your senior’s home. Learn more about the compassionate, quality senior care we deliver each day to families in our community.


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