Supporting residents with dementia during sundowning at Crouched Friars

Now that the clocks have moved forward and we have longer days, it seems like a blessing for most of us. However, this change can prove to be a big challenge for people living with dementia.

At Crouched Friars, it is our priority to provide personalised and compassionate care for our residents living with dementia. And part of this care involves addressing issues like sundowning, how to prevent them and how to help our residents cope with them.

In this blog, let’s explore what exactly sundowning is, why it occurs, and how you can help your loved ones manage it effectively.

Understanding sundowning

Sundowning refers to a behavioural shift experienced by some individuals with dementia as the day draws to a close. They may exhibit signs of agitation, restlessness, or anxiety. This can be a stressful time for people living with dementia and their loved ones.


Causes of sundowning

While the exact cause remains unclear, several factors can contribute to sundowning:

Fatigue – Throughout the day, people with dementia naturally become more tired. This fatigue can exacerbate their dementia symptoms.

Physical needs – Unmet needs like hunger, thirst, or pain can also trigger sundowning symptoms.

Environmental shifts – The shift from daylight to artificial lighting can be disorienting. This can make people living with dementia feel lost or confused about their surroundings.

 

Helping residents cope with sundowning

When a resident experiences sundowning, creating a calmer and more secure environment can help. You can do so by:

Distraction techniques – Offer a comforting activity like listening to music, taking a walk, or enjoying a snack.

Open communication – Talk to them gently, ask them what’s bothering them, and listen attentively to their concerns.

Soothing environment – Speak softly, use short sentences, and offer physical comfort by holding their hand or stroking their arm.

Ways to prevent it

While there’s no guaranteed way to prevent sundowning, here are some strategies that can help:

Structured days – Establish a daily routine with activities the resident enjoys.

Limitation on stimulants – Reduce caffeine and alcohol intake, opting for decaf beverages or alcohol-free alternatives. Consider stopping alcohol altogether if necessary.

Nap times – Encourage shorter naps during the day to promote better nighttime sleep.

Lighting and reflections – Adjust the environment by closing curtains and turning on lights before dusk. Cover mirrors or reflective surfaces that might cause confusion.

Meal planning – Avoid large meals in the evening to prevent sleep disruptions.

Calming evening routine – Create a calming evening routine with familiar activities they enjoy. Choose calming music or TV programs to avoid sudden loud noises.


We’re here to help

Remember that you’re not alone. There is help and support available through organisations such as Alzheimer’s Society.

At Crouched Friars, our dedicated staff is here to support you and your loved ones.  We can help you develop a personalised plan to manage sundowning and create a comfortable, secure environment for everyone. 

Please don’t hesitate to contact us at 01206 572647 or drop by our lovely home in Colchester for more information or support.

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