By: Lauren Watral, MSW Geriatric Care Manager |
  • As a caregiver, closely monitor your own body language.  Assure that your  facial expression, body movements, and tone of voice are calming and reassuring. Persons with dementia will mirror what you are showing them.
  • If you need to touch the person or approach them, move slowly. Always explain in advance what you are going to do before you do it. For example, “I’m going to hold your hand now. Is that okay?”
  • Plan more active days for your loved one. Consider hiring a home companion to do activities or using an adult day center.
  • Keep to a set routine as much as possible. Try to replicate the routine your loved one maintained throughout the majority of  life.
  • Encourage a rest period after lunch to reduce afternoon fatigue
  • Make afternoon and evening hours less hectic.  Schedule appointments, trips and activities, such as baths or showers, early in the day.
  • Help the person to use up extra energy through exercise. If they are becoming aggressive or combative at night, encourage them to do physically-demanding activities during the day such as throwing (e.g., balls); tearing (e.g., fabrics); hitting (e.g., ping pong paddles); kicking (e.g., beach balls); dancing/marching; and clapping.
  • Control the person’s diet.  Reduce foods and beverages with caffeine and sugar or restrict them to the morning hours to reduce agitation and sleeplessness.  An early dinner or late afternoon snack may also help.
  • Avoid asking what the problem is. The person will not be able to tell you.
  • Reduce the level of noise from radios, televisions or stereos, and control the number of people who visit in the evening hours.
  • Keep rooms adequately lit, good lighting may reduce the person’s confusion.
  • Try playing calming music and do something soothing and relaxing with your loved one, such as a hand or back  massage.
  • Provide a quiet area late in the afternoon and early evening that allows your loved one to process information away from family activity and other distractions. Confine noisier family activities to another area of the house.
  • Never leave a wanderer alone.
  • Seek medical advice to rule out physical ailments such as urinary tract infections or constipation. Persons with dementia often will not be able to tell you if something hurts or they are having a physical problem.  Sudden and chronic changes in behavior suggest a physical problem rather than a problem related to dementia.
  • If your loved one is experiencing a delusion or hallucination, don’t try to convince them that they’re wrong. Just go along with it and reassure them that they are safe and loved. If the delusion or hallucination is frightening to them, discuss this with their physician as a medication to calm them down may be appropriate.
  • Lastly, try to remember that Sundowner’s Syndrome is often a transient phase of the dementia process and that “this too shall pass.”

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