GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Daylight saving time ends this weekend, and while it can be inconvenient adjusting to a new schedule it can have a much deeper impact on seniors with dementia.

Scott Silknitter from Caregiving 101 discussed what is known as "sundowning," which is also called “late-day confusion." It's when someone becomes confused and agitated in the late afternoon and into the night, and it can cause a variety of behaviors, including aggression and wandering.

There isn't a specific cause of sundowning, but some of the factors that might aggravate late-day confusion include:

  • Fatigue
  • Low lighting and increased shadows
  • Disruption of the body's 'internal clock'

As you change your clocks and fall back an hour, your loved one's routine might be thrown off especially as it starts getting darker earlier. Here are steps to take to make the transition easier:

  • Maintain a predictable routine for bedtime, meals and activities. If you need to make changes, make them gradually.
  • Limit daytime napping and plan for activities and exposure to light during the day to encourage nighttime sleepiness.
  • Limit caffeine and sugar to morning hours.
  • Keep a night light on to reduce agitation that happens when surroundings are dark or unfamiliar.
  • In the evening, try to reduce background noise and stimulating activities, including TV.

If you have questions for Scott, you can reach him here.