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How to Help Reduce Your Senior’s Risk of Experiencing Sundowning

Elder Care in Gramercy NY

Elderly woman sitting on a bedSundowning is a symptom of dementia. Also known as “late-day” confusion, it results in increased agitation and confusion as the day progresses. There are several steps you can take to minimize this symptom most commonly occurring in those in a moderate to advanced stage of the disease.


A routine is important for those with dementia. Getting your loved one up at the same time each day and having them go to bed at the same time helps to set his wake-sleep cycle. Keeping a schedule with times included for meals, exercise, various activities and daily hygiene helps foster a sense of continuity—important for your loved one who is confused due to the change occurring in their brain.


Increased daytime activity and discourage naps in order to promote sleep at the end of the day. To this end, try to minimize caffeine, alcohol and sugar in their diet. You can also experiment with different foods for dinner and keep the meal light. In order to promote sleep, one suggestion is to serve turkey, a food high in tryptophan, an amino acid known to promote sleep.

Circadian Rhythm

Dementia is known to cause changes to the sleep-wake cycle, also known as the circadian rhythm, due to the buildup of protein-comprised plaque within the brain. This results in confusion when sunlight begins to fade and shadows begin to appear. This leads to agitation. Melatonin, a hormone that influences circadian rhythms, has been shown to help promote sleep when taken thirty minutes prior to bed. Placing a full-spectrum light close to your parent for a few hours in the morning will also help maintain the circadian rhythm.

Minimize Stress

Minimize stress and promote calming activities, particularly toward the end of the day. These may include listening to relaxing music, or giving a hand or foot massage.

Referred Caregiver

At times, it is difficult to maintain a routine schedule while performing all the other necessary tasks such as cleaning, laundry and meal preparation. Obtaining the services of a referred caregiver, whether full or part time, can help create the sense of stability your parent needs. Once a schedule is determined, decide what daily activities of living you could use the most help with. Would it help if the referred caregiver took a daily walk with your parent? Or would it be more beneficial if they did light housekeeping and meal preparation so you could devote your time to providing you parent the exercise they need? Would it be better for you and your parent if they spent a full few days with them, providing the routine they so benefit from, and giving you a few days to replenish? Whatever the needs of your senior with dementia, a referred caregiver can certainly help in many ways.


If you or an aging loved one are considering non-medical in-home care in Manhattan, NY, call Griswold Home Care and speak to one of our caring staff members today. Call (212) 845-9854