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How to Help Overcome Dementia Restlessness

How to Help Overcome Dementia Restlessness

Wandering. Pacing. Fidgeting. When you begin to notice these signs of dementia restlessness in someone you love, it’s time for you to take action before they intensify to agitation, aggression, or leaving the home. But figuring out why the older adult is feeling uneasy is sometimes half the battle. 

For starters, consider the following questions:

  • Could the senior be hungry or thirsty?
  • Have they been sedentary too long and need to move?
  • Is anything causing the person physical discomfort or pain?
  • Are there too many distractions in the room?
  • Are there visitors who could be producing distress or anxiety?
  • Might they need to use the restroom?
  • Are they bored?

If you’re uncertain, try fulfilling potential physical needs first. Ask if they would be interested in a snack or something to drink. Watch for nonverbal clues which could indicate discomfort, and contact the physician right away for direction if you suspect the individual is in pain. 

If the issue seems to be emotionally driven, try distracting the person with a calming activity that they enjoy, like listening to favorite music and dancing together to channel that restless energy in a positive manner. Go for a walk outside, if weather permits, or move into another room of the house for a change of scenery and to work on a puzzle together, read, or participate in a hobby.

The Unique Difficulties of Sundowning

Sundowning occurs late in the afternoon and into the evening, causing the senior to feel especially anxious about being in the wrong place or wanting to go “home,” even if they are already at home. If dementia restlessness is occurring during this particular time of day, it can be very difficult for family caregivers, who need to be able to rest and get a sufficient amount of sleep.

To help a senior with sundowning, a team approach is frequently best, allowing the primary caregiver to take the break they need at night while making sure the individual remains safe. 

Steps you can take include:

  • Create a tag with contact and identifying information for the individual, or purchase an identity bracelet or necklace, and make sure the individual is wearing it at all times.
  • Talk with the person’s neighbors to let them know about the situation so they can help you keep watch in the event the individual does find a way to wander away from home.

Connect with Amy’s Helping Hands, the award-winning provider of home care in Windsor, Ontario at 519-915-4370 for a fully trained and experienced Alzheimer's caregiver to take the night shift, or any other shift. We can provide someone you love with the patient, compassionate, and creative senior care they need to overcome restlessness and other difficulties of dementia, while providing you with peace of mind and a much healthier life balance.


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