Even as summer’s warmth lingers on in parts of the country, the signs of autumn are in the air as the leaves begin to change color, pumpkin spice hits the store shelves, and the sun sets a little earlier each day.
For families caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias, those shorter days can mean big changes if their loved one has issues with sundowning.
Sundowning is a group of symptoms including confusion, anxiety, and agitation that gets worse late in the afternoon and evening. While the exact cause of sundowning symptoms is not known, it can be brought on by low lighting, increased shadows, and fatigue.
Caregivers can reduce sundowning by maintaining a predictable routine throughout the day. Plan for well-lit and engaging daytime activities for a loved one with dementia like the autumn leaf tote craft below to encourage sleepiness at night. Limit daytime napping and caffeine throughout the day to encourage an early bedtime.
Activities for a loved one with dementia should be planned with their skill and interest level in mind. Be patient, take breaks, and don’t worry about the end result. The goal is to have an engaging afternoon with your loved one.
Autumn Leaf Tote
What You’ll Need:
- A variety of leaves collected from the yard
- Blank tote bag
- Craft paint
- Wax paper
- Rolling pin or paint roller
- Paint the side of the leaf you would like to print.
- Press the leaf to the bag.
- Cover with a sheet of wax paper.
- Use the roller to press the painted leaf onto the tote.
- Let dry.
See more activities for dementia patients.
- Painting the back of the leaf will produce stronger stem lines.
- If you plan to wash the tote, you can iron the tote to set the paint once it has fully dried.
- While doing activities with a loved one with dementia, engage them in conversation. Play music your loved one enjoys softly in the background to create a positive mood.
- Activities for people with dementia have the best chance of success in the morning between breakfast and lunch when your loved one is well rested. If they don’t want to participate or get frustrated, don’t force it. Try again another time.
Crossroads Hospice & Palliative Care is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year to support patients with dementia and their families. Please call us at 1-888-564-3405 to learn more about how our unique care programs help provide a higher quality of life for dementia patients while helping caregivers avoid burnout.
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