Wandering. Pacing. Fidgeting. When you start to notice these warning signs in a senior with dementia, it’s time to take action before they escalate to aggression, agitation, or leaving the house. But identifying why the senior is feeling restless is sometimes half the battle.
Identifying the Cause for RestlessnessFor starters, think about the following questions:
- Is anything causing the person pain or physical discomfort?
- Might they need to use the restroom?
- Are they bored?
- Are there any visitors who might be causing anxiety or distress?
- Are there an overabundance of distractions in the room?
- Have they been sedentary too long and need to move?
- Could the older adult be thirsty or hungry?
The Unique Difficulties of SundowningSundowning occurs late in the afternoon and into the evening, causing the individual to feel particularly anxious about being in the wrong place or wanting to go “home,” even when they are already at home. If restlessness is happening during this particular period of the day, it could be very challenging for family caregivers, who need to be able to rest and get a sufficient amount of sleep. To help a senior with sundowning, a team approach is often best, allowing the primary caregiver to take the break they need during the night while making sure the senior remains safe. Steps you can take include:
- Speak with the person’s neighbors to let them know about the situation so they can help you keep watch in the event the person does find a way to wander away from home.
- Create a tag with contact and identifying information for the person, or purchase an identity bracelet or necklace, and make sure the senior is wearing it all the time.