Caregiving Monday: 10 tips to dealing with sundowning

Sundowning gets everything turned around
Sundowning gets everything turned around as the sun goes down



If you have a loved one with dementia/Alzheimer’s you know that often sundowning is a common issue.

Sundowning is in the later afternoon and early evening, when the sun begins to set, and the individual becomes more agitates and frustrated.  Often s/he wants to go home, yells, increased hallucinations, begins undressing, has increased confusion, etc.


So how do you deal with sundowning?

  1. Turn the lights down and calm the loved one. Often turning on soft music will also help him/her to relax.

    Keeping a track of triggers and what calms agitation is a great idea
    Keeping a track of triggers and what calms agitation is a great idea
  2. On the reverse side, sometimes turning the lights on in the room being occupied helps the loved one.
  3. Hold your loved ones hand and gently talk with him/her. Take the time to reassure him/her.
  4. Take a walk—staying active is good for the body. Even if it is just a few steps or down the hall and back is good for your loved one.  If s/he can’t walk and has a wheel chair, put your loved one around in the chair for a change of scenery.
  5. Calming activities—find activities that are not stressful for your loved one and will keep him/her calm. Depending on the level of functioning, some activities such as reading and watching TV are stressful because they are difficult to follow.
  6. Eat a lighter dinner—larger meals may be heavier on the digestion system or have more caffeine and/or alcohol. Enjoy these foods at lunch and have a lighter meal or snack in the evening.
  7. Keep a daily journal—keep a journal of the daily activities and document triggers and behaviors that create agitation. By keeping track of this information you can identify the triggers and attempt to eliminate or change them.
  8. Limiting sleep during the day to short 20 minute catnaps—this helps the internal body clock to not become so confused
  9. Keep active—during the day keep your loved one active and develop more activities or outings for your loved one {depending on his/her ability}.
  10. Talk to a doctor—most importantly discuss the issue with his/her doctor. Medication{s} may be a factor or could be prescribed to help with agitation and confusion.

How do you deal with sundowning?

Caregiving Monday: 10 Ways to Care for the Caregiver

Caregiving can be very stressful on the caregiver.

Caregivers need time to relax, unwind and have some “me” time.   Balancing self-care is important.

Pamper yourself
Pamper yourself

What are some ways to do this?

  1. Exercise—exercise is good for the body and also helps the mind. Exercise also helps to relieve stress.   Take a walk, go to an exercise class, put in an exercise video, ride a bicycle, take a dance class, etc.  Find something you enjoy doing and can do on a regular basis.
  2. Pamper yourself—take time to pamper yourself whether it is a facial, massage, or mani/pedi.
  3. Create personal space—if your loved one lives with you, find an area in your home that is just for you. An area where you can just rest and relax without the added worries and stress of caring for a household and family.
  4. Make a list—write a list of things you would enjoy doing if you had the time. At least once a month try to pick one item to mark off your list.

    Enjoy some music and go dancing
    Enjoy some music and go dancing
  5. Schedule the time—schedule the time, make sure you have the time off and take the time for yourself. Even if it is an hour or few hours we all need time for ourselves.
  6. Mini Vacations—arrange for a mini vacation. Take a weekend and get away with your husband or by yourself.  Arrange to have someone cover the shift and go somewhere for a break.  You can stay in town, go to a nearby retreat, or go a few hours away.  If possible try to get away on a quarterly or bi-annually place to rejuvenate yourself.
  7. Enjoy a hobby—find a hobby you enjoy and take time for the hobby. This can be anything from reading to gardening to knitting/crocheting to DIY projects to anything else you enjoy.
  8. Music is always good to relax and unwind with. Put on some soothing music or go out dancing.
  9. Develop a routine—find a routine that is best for your needs and circumstances. Find ways to implement time saving techniques into your day.
  10. Journal—journaling your feelings, thoughts and emotions is a great way to express your feelings and be honest with yourself. You can also keep a thanksgiving or gratitude journal to remind yourself of what you are thankful for.  On the more stressful days look back over the journal for a reminder.

How do you find me time amidst your caregiving obligations?

Caregiving Monday: 10 Ways to Use music to calm and minister

I’ve had some residents that would yell, become agitated, or have hallucinations. I’ve discovered I can use music to calm and minister to these residents.

  1. Using songs that are familiar helps the loved one feel comfortable because the song is familiar

    Music is theraputic
    Music is theraputic
  2. Singing hymns is often soothing
  3. Music that is calming or played softly often helps to deal with agitation. I’ve often found that piano music is great for calming the loved one, whether in person or through a CD.
  4. Nature sounds are a great way to calm agitation
  5. Hymns ministers to the soul
  6. Familiar songs can illicit happy memories
  7. Singing is often the equivalent to “praying twice”
  8. Music often speaks to the soul and can be used to help the loved one express themselves
  9. Use songs that help redirect the loved one into other thoughts or memories. For instance, ask “Did Dad sing let me call you sweetheart to you when you were courting?” or “did you see Wizard of Oz as a child?”  or “did you see {name artists} in concert?”
  10. Use movement to music to help the loved one stay active. This can be done in a variety of ways from playing a small handheld instrument to dancing to hitting a ball/balloon to moving with scarves to the music.

How do you use music to calm and minister?

Caregiving Monday: 9 benefits of hospice




Hospice is a great resource when the time comes.  They provide equipment, supplies and assistance at no charge.  If you think you need hospice, I’d advice that you speak with your doctor about the manner.   Hospice is usually called in with the decline of that patient from cancer, Alzheimer’s and other diseases.  Your doctor or local hospice can give you more information.

Just remember to be thankful for all that the workers do.

Some of the assistance provided includes a nurse, social worker, aid to assist with bathing and other needs, religious advisor and prescriptions.

What are some benefits of hospice?

  1. They can guide and direct you through the process—they’ve done this before and are able to answer questions you have and direct your next hospice2steps.
  2. They help keep your loved one comfortable—whether at home, in a hospital, at a hospice center or in a nursing facility they will keep your loved one comfortable in these last days. Often this is in an environment that is familiar to your loved one.
  3. Personalized support and care—they have the resources and staff to personalize care that will best benefit your loved one and your family.
  4. Lessens the financial burden—hospice is normally covered by Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance companies and their expenses are often less than a skilled nursing facility.
  5. Respect for the Patient’s wishes—the family can focus on spending time with the loved one and not dealing with a lot of red tape.
  6. Numerous services—hospice provides numerous services such as spiritual care, social workers and counseling.
  7. Gives the patient a sense of dignity—the loved one is able to die with dignity instead of dealing with procedures that prolong life.
  8. Provides family counseling—provides bereavement and grief counseling for the family and other guidance may be available if needed.
  9. Wraps up the details—the hospice nurse and social worker often take care of a lot of the final paperwork that needs to be completed, lifting the burden from the family. This can include calling the funeral home and submitting a death certificate.


Caregiving Monday: 9 Things to Remember When a loved one is dying

end of lifeEventually our time as a caregiver will come to an end and our loved one will pass on.  This can be a very tiring and trying time.  This is also a bittersweet time.   The end of a painful journey is coming to an end but you are also saying a final goodbye to that loved one.

This can be a long goodbye at times lasting from a few hours to a few weeks.

So what should you do when your loved one is actively dying?

  1. Make the loved one your priority—take the time to spend with your loved one, hold his/her hand and talk to him/her.

    Make the transition as peaceful and soothing as possible. Don’t leave anything unsaid.
  2. Remember hearing is the last sense to go—even if your loved one is in a common or sleeping s/he can still hear you. Take the time to say what needs to be done and make peace.  Don’t regret what is left unsaid.
  3. Cherish the time—cherish these last moments with your loved one. Take the time to reminisce, share memories and tell him/her how much you love him.
  4. Respect his/her wishes—a lot of decisions have to be made in a hurry during this time. Knowing your loved ones wishes help to eliminate chaos and confusion.
  5. Accept your loved one is dying—this is difficult and you will find yourself on an emotional rollercoaster, but allow yourself to feel and be honest about your feelings
  6. Maintain a peaceful environment—keep your loved one as peaceful and calm as possible. Any dissention should be taken out of the room.
  7. Follow your loved ones lead—is s/he discussing seeing a loved one or angels?, does s/he want to discuss about passing over? Go with what is comfortable for your loved one.   Don’t insist, “no you’re not dying” because s/he will know better.
  8. Remember to take time to also take care of yourself during this time.
  9. Stay in the moment—don’t try to get too far ahead of yourself. Take time to cherish the moment and don’t try to overanalyze everything.


How have you dealt with a loved one who is dying?