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Daylight saving time and dementia

The concept of daylight saving time can confuse everybody's internal clock. Losing an hour in the spring can cause tiredness, while gaining an hour in the winter increases the risk of irritability and depression in most people. However, these effects can be much more pronounced in people with dementia.

By adding or taking away an hour, daylight saving time affects your loved one's natural circadian rhythms (their body clock).

This affects the chemicals the brain releases throughout the day, and often results in changes in behaviour, mood and well-being.

For those with dementia, daylight saving time is also damaging because having a consistent routine is an important part of managing their condition. By shifting ahead/back an hour, this routine is disrupted and often leads to confusion.

Sundowning syndrome

It's estimated that 1 in 5 people with dementia suffer from 'sundowning syndrome'. Through this condition, the confusion caused by dementia is made much worse when the sun goes down.

Many caregivers have noticed that the intensity of this confusion gets much worse after the clocks change. It is believed that overstimulation and exhaustion caused by daylight saving time affect the brain and compound the effects of sundowning syndrome.

People present in many different ways, but here are the key symptoms of sundowning syndrome:

  • Pacing and wandering
  • Feelings of agitation/being overwhelmed
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Confusion/disorientation
  • Demanding
  • Suspicious
  • Yelling
  • Hearing or seeing things that aren't there
  • Having mood swings

What can you do to help?

By making sure your loved one sticks to a regular routine, despite the clocks changing, you can help avoid the detrimental effects of daylight saving.

Help them avoid sleep disrupters such as caffeine, alcohol, and naps during the day. These will make it harder for them to sleep at night.

Take them out for a walk. Exposure to natural sunlight helps regulate the body's natural rhythms and the exercise will help your loved one fall asleep later on.

Make sure that they stay in a comfortable environment, full of light and at a moderate temperature. This will help them feel safe and secure in their home.

How can The Good Care Group help?

Our live-in carers are specifically trained to help your loved one manage with dementia, and support them with their day-to-day lives.

They will help maintain a regular routine, including any medications your loved one may require, and make sure they are eating, exercising and sleeping in a way that's beneficial for their health.

A live-in carer also allows your loved one to stay in their home, so they are not disorientated by a new environment. This can help dementia patients immensely.

Call The Good Care Group and get the support you need to help improve your loved one's wellbeing.