What Alzheimer's Caregivers Need to Know About Sundowning

How to Help Your Aging Loved One Cope with Sleep Issues

Sleep disturbances (known as “sundowning”) are common among people with Alzheimer’s and dementia. This can look like agitation and anxiety around bedtime, sleepwalking, waking up throughout the night, and other behaviors or habits that interrupt sleep. Consistently disrupted rest can cause your loved one to be more exhausted and disoriented, increasing their risk of falling and sustaining serious injuries.

While there is not yet any concrete, scientific answer as to why sundowning occurs, there are many things you can do to play a part in reducing your loved one’s difficulty sleeping:

  1. Create visual cues that help your loved one prepare for bed. You can help your senior get to bed more easily in the evenings by using environmental cues. This can include eating dinner at the same time every evening, dimming the lights an hour before bed, and instituting other habitual clues that help your loved one prepare for sleep. Adhering to a pre-bedtime routine can help your senior fall asleep and stay asleep.
  2. Help your senior be as active as possible. Getting outdoors or engaging in physical activity with someone who has Alzheimer’s or dementia may sound impossible. However, “physical activity” doesn’t have to mean hiking, going to the beach, or doing anything particularly strenuous. Going to doctor appointments, engaging in some simple exercises, and doing other activities that require movement and attention can be very helpful in making sure your senior is tired and ready for rest when bedtime rolls around.
  3. Steer clear of stimulants in the hours before bed. Avoiding smoking or drinking alcohol, soda, and coffee is a great way to prevent sleep interruption. Regulating your senior’s TV time is also important in helping them rest during the night, and establishing a screen-free zone during the hours before bed can help ensure they are not over-stimulated at night.
  4. Consult with your loved one’s doctor. There may be other environmental, chemical, or physical factors that are contributing to your family member’s difficulty sleeping. Get in touch with your loved one’s primary care doctor as soon as possible to discuss possible causes and potential remedies.

Bring in a Compassionate, Experienced In-Home Caregiver

If you are a family caregiver in Texas, At Home Healthcare is here to help you. Our in-home care staff are experienced and love serving our clients and their families. It is our mission to come alongside you, alleviate your stress, and bear the weight of caregiving responsibility with you.

You don’t have to do this alone. If you need respite care or other assistance caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia, call (877) 959-9093 today to speak to a member of our team.

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