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.
For 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?
If you are not certain, try meeting potential physical needs first. Ask if they would like a snack or something to drink. Look for nonverbal clues that could reveal distress, and contact the physician right away for direction if you suspect the individual is in pain.
In the event that the problem appears to be emotionally driven, try distracting the individual with a calming activity that they enjoy, such as listening to favorite music and dancing together. This can help channel that restless energy in a positive manner. Go for a walk outside, if weather permits, or move into another room of the house for a change of scenery and to read, work on a puzzle together, or participate in any other enjoyable activity.
The Unique Difficulties of Sundowning
Sundowning 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.
Contact Home Sweet Home In-Home Care’s experts in dementia care in Portage, MI and other Michigan communities at (866) 229-2505 for a thoroughly trained and experienced Alzheimer’s caregiver to take the night shift, or any other shift. We can provide someone you love with the patient, compassionate, and creative home care they need to overcome restlessness and other difficulties of dementia, while providing you with peace of mind and a much healthier life balance.