Pacing. Fidgeting. Wandering. When you begin to notice these clues in a person with dementia, it is time to take action before they intensify to agitation, aggression, or leaving the house. But figuring out why the individual is feeling restless is sometimes half the battle.
To begin with, ask yourself the following questions when observing restlessness in dementia:
- Is anything causing the person pain or physical discomfort?
- Are they bored?
- Could the individual be hungry or thirsty?
- Might they need to use the bathroom?
- Is there an overabundance of distractions in the room?
- Have they been sedentary too long and need to move?
- Are there visitors who might be causing anxiety or distress?
If you are unsure, try fulfilling potential physical needs first. Ask if they would like a snack or something to drink. Watch for nonverbal clues that could point to distress, and call the doctor right away for direction in the event that you suspect the senior is in pain.
If the problem appears to be emotionally driven, try distracting the senior with a soothing activity that they enjoy, such as listening to favorite music and dancing together to channel that restless energy in a positive way. 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 another enjoyable activity.
What Are the Unique Challenges of Sundowning?
Sundowning occurs late in the afternoon and into the evening, causing the senior to feel especially anxious about being in the wrong place or wanting to go “home,” even if they are already at home. If restlessness is occurring during this particular period of the day, it can be very difficult for family caregivers, who need to be able to rest and get an adequate amount of sleep.
To help a person with sundowning, a team approach is often best, allowing the primary family caregiver to take the break they need during the night while ensuring the individual remains safe. Actions you can take include:
- Create a tag with identifying and contact information for the individual, or purchase an identity bracelet or necklace, and make sure the older adult is wearing it at all times.
- 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.
Reach out to CareWorks Health Services at (949) 859-4700 for a fully 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 care they need to overcome restlessness and other difficulties of dementia, while giving you peace of mind and a much healthier life balance. Reach out to our team today and discover why we are number one when it comes to in home care Newport Beach and surrounding areas trust most. For more information about the different locations that we serve, please visit our Service Area page.