Today I Learned...
- Planning and preparing for the end of daylight savings time will help the adjustment go smoother
- Find what works for your loved one
- Take necessary preparation steps weeks in advance to ease the transition
he time change associated with Daylight Savings Time is just a slight inconvenience for most people. However, if you are a caregiver, this time shift can have a huge impact on you and your loved one.
Understanding how the time change affects your loved one can help you make adjustments in advance. This will make it easier for everyone to adjust.
The sudden shift in time change can cause confusion and disorientation.
When you think about Daylight Savings Time, you may be focused on the time change itself.
But for adults with dementia or Alzheimer's, it's more than just a simple shift in your schedule. Daylight Savings Time can be especially difficult for people suffering from these diseases because they're already sensitive to changes in their surroundings and less able to handle them.
If you're a caregiver, it's important to understand how the time change affects your loved one. This way, you can make adjustments in advance and be prepared with ways to help them cope with this difficult adjustment period.
The effect on the body's natural circadian rhythm.
The change from standard time to daylight saving time is particularly difficult for caregivers of Alzheimer's patients because the loss of an hour disrupts the natural circadian rhythm.
"The body's internal clock is thrown out of sync and then has to readjust," says Dr. Yvette Vignola-Habash, a geriatric neurologist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. "That can cause confusion and agitation in people with Alzheimer's."
Light and dark hours are different this time of year, so even making simple adjustments like going for a walk during daylight hours can help your loved one regulate their sleep habits.
This added concern can put caregivers at an increased risk of stress, depression, and anxiety. You'll need to make some adjustments to help your loved one cope with the change while keeping yourself healthy as well.
It may take several weeks for a person's body to adjust to the standard clock.
If you're caring for someone with Dementia or Alzheimer's, the time change can be especially confusing.
Your loved one may experience anxiety, agitation, and other symptoms as they try to adjust to the new schedule. In addition to being more tired during the day because of less light in the morning (which also happens when we travel), your senior may have trouble with language comprehension as well.
How do you help your loved one adjust?
Here are some tips to follow to help with the adjustment:
- Start changing your routine slowly to reflect what will happen
- Try not to do anything out of the ordinary right after the time change
- Keeping your routine familiar will provide stability - they won't have to deal with schedule disruption as well as time disruption
- If possible, keep track of when it gets dark outside so that people aren't surprised by a sudden change in light levels after sunset (e.g., if an evening walk turns into an evening jog!)
Other ideas include:
- Start talking about the change early. Make sure they understand what's going to happen and why it's happening. This will help them feel more prepared for the change in their routine and schedule.
- Create a checklist of activities and tasks that need to be done during this time of year, such as putting out holiday decorations or cleaning up leaves from around the house. Then give your loved one something like a calendar or chart where they can mark off each task as it gets done so they can see how much progress they're making on their list!
- Be flexible with meal times during this period—having meals at different times than usual can cause confusion for people with dementia so try not to get too upset if they forget when lunch is supposed to be served! But don't forget about nutrition either; make sure they're getting enough food throughout the day.
Remember that this time of year can be stressful for all of us, but it can be especially difficult for someone with Alzheimer's or Dementia. Remember to take a deep breath and don't get frustrated if your loved one seems confused or disoriented. If you're feeling overwhelmed by the changes associated with Daylight Savings Time as a caregiver, take some time to take care of yourself as well!