How Daylight Savings Time Can Affect Alzheimer’s Patients
Don't forget to set your clocks back...and check in on your loved ones.
Daylight Savings Time ends next week on Sunday, November 3, meaning that you'll get an extra hour hour of sleep (or an extra late-night Netflix episode).
Unfortunately, this extra hour of sleep is not enjoyable for everyone. For patients suffering from Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia, the time change can heighten their disorientation.
This is due to a condition called "sundowning," which is when symptoms in dementia patients occur or increase in the evening hours, often during the winter.
These symptoms include anxiety, sadness, restlessness, hallucinations or delusions, mood swings, confusion, and energy surges.
The official cause of sundowning is not entirely clear, but the Alzheimer's Association believes it is associated with a disruption in the sleep and wake cycles, which are exacerbated by Daylight Savings Time.
If you are the caregiver for an ill loved one, sundowning can be difficult to deal with. However, one of the most important things you can do to cope is to take good care of yourself.
According to the Alzheimer's Association, taking care of yourself makes you less likely to exhibit unusual behavior that could inadvertently stress out your loved one.
If you consider exercise to be self-care, think about bringing your loved one along for your workout routine. Even a short walk can help them with their restlessness.
The Association also recommends that any activities, such as appointments or chores, be reserved for the daytime, as to not overstimulate your loved one during the evening.
With around 73,000 Coloradans suffering from Alzheimer's disease, next week's time change will be difficult for many of our friends and neighbors. Consider using the mood boost from your extra hour of sleep to lend a helping hand.