Seniors, Caregivers and the End of Daylight Savings Time
Christine Browning, R.N.
In-home caregiving depends on routine. Not only is it important for the planning and sanity of the caregiver, it’s essential for the stable independence of those we love. The importance of routine and our reliance on it increases as we age.
Time changes can be a major disruption.
As the end of Daylight Savings Time approaches, some look forward to “getting back” that hour of sleep we lost in the spring. But many of us who care for those experiencing dementia or Alzheimer’s have seen how it can worsen the effects of sundowning. Preparing in advance can help your loved one ease into the change and minimize sundowning issues by adjusting their routine in increments to be compatible with the light available at different times of day.
Some families report success with gradually shifting the schedule over several days in advance to ease the transition. Others find that adding a short nap or quiet time to the routine for several days after the shift can lessen the shock to an older person’s internal clock.
Others have used medication or dietary supplements to help in the transition. Your older loved one likely is taking a number of prescriptions already, soconsult with your physician before altering any pharmaceuticals or using any over-the-counter drug or supplement.
For many more people, including those who are otherwise healthy and active, the dwindling evening daylight can bring on symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder. While it’s easy to dismiss the loss of energy or interest in daily activities as simply the “winter blues,” severe cases can lead to mood swings, depression and seriously interfere with a caregiver’s ability to complete daily tasks. Your physician may recommend something as simple as spending some time in bright light or a little talk therapy, but only if you take the time to ask.
We are interested in learning your individual approaches to adjusting to the time change – for both yourself and your loved one. Take a moment to share your ideas in our Facebook community.
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