Last Updated: March 19, 2024

Inside this Article:

What is Daylight Saving Time?

clock with fall leaves and fall back sign

Daylight saving time is an annual practice where we adjust our clocks forward by one hour in the spring, or “spring forward.” The end of daylight saving time is when we set the clocks backward by one hour in the fall, or “fall back.”

The end of daylight saving time means that it will feel like you have an extra hour of sleep in the morning. But, it comes at the cost of earlier sunsets in the evening. This time adjustment can affect various aspects of daily life, from sleep patterns to outdoor activities and exposure to natural light.

The end of daylight saving time can have particularly profound effects on the senior population, especially those living with Alzheimer’s and dementia. That is because when it gets darker earlier, seniors with memory conditions can experience increased effects of sundowning.

In this article, we’ll explore how daylight saving time ending can worsen the symptoms of sundowning, and offer suggestions for seniors to mitigate its potentially negative impact.

What is Sundowning and How is it Impacted by Daylight Saving Time?

older lady looking out the window

Sundowning refers to a group of worsening symptoms that occur in people with Alzheimer’s and dementia as evening approaches and the sun starts to set. These symptoms can include confusion, agitation, restlessness, anxiety, sadness, delusions, mood swings, energy surges, and an overall decline in cognitive function. 

While the exact cause of sundowning is not fully understood, it is believed to result from a combination of factors, including disruptions in the body’s internal clock and increased sensitivity to environmental changes. Light and darkness play a large role in controlling our circadian rhythm, the internal bodily process that signals when it is time to sleep and wake up. 

Daylight saving time can significantly exacerbate the symptoms of sundowning in seniors with Alzheimer’s and dementia. When we “fall back,” it can disrupt seniors’ internal clocks, making it challenging to adjust to the sudden time change. As a result, the symptoms of sundowning may become more pronounced, leaving both the affected individuals and their caregivers facing increased difficulties during the adjustment period.

How Seniors Can Lessen the Negative Effects of Sundowning

how to manage sundowning symptoms

The end of daylight saving time can be difficult for seniors experiencing the effects sundowning. However, there are a number of ways caregivers can make this adjustment period more manageable for older adults – especially those with dementia and Alzheimer’s.  

  1. Take Advantage of the Light: Exposure to natural light can help regulate the body’s internal clock. Encourage seniors to spend plenty of time outdoors during the daylight hours. Darkness can trigger agitation and confusion, so make sure to turn on lights early in the afternoon to brighten the home and try to keep rooms well-lit after the sun sets.
  2. Gradual Adjustments: Leading up to the end of daylight saving, gradually adjust the senior’s daily schedule by shifting their routine to be 15-30 minutes later. This can help ease the body into the new time change, making the adjustment less noticeable to the senior.
  3. Consistent Routine: Seniors with Alzheimer’s and dementia benefit from a structured daily routine. Ensure that meal times, medication schedules, and other activities happen at the same time each day, even after the time change. This includes maintaining the same bedtime every day to reset the body’s circadian rhythm.
  4. Limit Stimulants: Avoiding caffeine and excessive screen time in the evening can help reduce agitation and improve sleep quality. This will help seniors fall asleep easier even if their bedtime feels earlier than normal.
  5. Calming Activities: Engage seniors in calming activities in the evening, such as listening to soothing music, reading, or doing relaxation exercises to help ease anxiety and restlessness.
  6. Medication Consultation: In some cases, it may be necessary to consult with a healthcare professional regarding medications that can help manage the symptoms of sundowning during the daylight saving time transition.
  7. Support and Understanding: Caregivers should be patient and understanding, as individuals with Alzheimer’s and dementia may become more agitated and disoriented during this time. Providing emotional support and reassurance is essential.

Conclusion

woman giving father a snack

Daylight saving time can be challenging for all seniors, especially those with Alzheimer’s and dementia who may experience sundowning symptoms. However, by implementing gradual adjustments, maintaining a consistent routine, and focusing on sleep quality, seniors can have an easier time adapting to the time change. 

It is crucial for caregivers to prioritize the well-being and comfort of seniors during this adjustment period and provide them with the necessary support and understanding as they adapt to the new time schedule.

Finding Memory Care in Florida

older woman laughing with memory care nurse

As people age, it is common for some seniors to experience memory difficulties and, in more severe cases, develop conditions such as dementia. These memory-related challenges can significantly impact their quality of life, as well as that of their caregivers and families. In these situations, a high-quality memory care community becomes essential.

Florida memory care communities offer a safe and nurturing environment where seniors can receive tailored care and services that address their unique needs, while also providing round-the-clock supervision and medical assistance. Memory care allows seniors with cognitive difficulties to live in a safe, supportive and enriching environment, enhancing their overall well-being and quality of life.

senior living advisor with older couple

Finding the right memory care community is extremely important, but it can be an intimidating task. You want the best for your loved one, so enlist the experts at Florida Senior Consulting.

We help Florida seniors at all stages of their lives find the best senior living communities for them, including memory care communities. As Florida locals, we know the best of the best communities around. We will help you and your family find these communities at no cost to you. And, we’ll help with the touring, packing, moving, adjusting, and so much more!

Call us today at (800) 969-7176 or visit FloridaSeniorConsulting.com for help finding the best senior living option for your loved one, so they can live a safe, happy, engaged, and fulfilling life!

Senior Living on Your Terms. The Choice Should Be Yours.

Contact Florida Senior Consulting

(800) 969-7176