Preparing for the Change of Seasons with Dementia.
Ah yes, it is still 90 degrees here on the East Coast, but the pumpkin spice latte was released at Starbucks about a week ago. But alas, the seasons are changing. The nights will start to get cooler, the sun will start to set earlier, and the traffic will be more congested. While these things may not seem like such a big adjustment for most of us, for someone with dementia they can be detrimental. Here are some things to consider during this change of season
Someone with dementia may be sensitive to rushing or hurrying.
People with dementia are sensitive to chaos. This combined with the potential for an inability to communicate feelings, distress, or concern can cause a catastrophe. So I recommend pre-planning and finding ways to save time or create more time in the morning to account for potential traffic issues. This may include:
- Creating quicker or on-the-go meal options
- Scheduling doctor’s appointments a little later than usual (about 30 minutes)
- Waking up slightly earlier (do a few minutes each day for about a week until you’ve reached the desired wake up time. This will help establish a routine slowly)
Set them up for success by beginning in their closet.
Start that transition closet! Pull out the Fall clothes and have them available. Some other important tips are:
- Pair layers together. T-shirts with sweaters so they’re ready to put on.
- Create whole outfits in the closet
- Provide 2-4 clothing options for the person to choose from, depending on the weather
- Make sure the closet is organized and items are easy to find
The time change and less sunlight may increase Sun Downing symptoms.
Be aware of this and be sensitive to it. Some techniques may be to ensure the lighting is good, as shadows can increase confusion, start the “wind down” routine earlier. Some things I recommend for this routine include:
- The use of essential oils (I love lavender in a diffuser or a drop or two on a damp, warm, wash cloth)
- Having dinner available earlier
- Music (individual iPods or other MP3 players with headphones are great, especially if the person with dementia lives with your family and evenings can be chaotic)
- A warm bath or shower
As always, Dementia is not a “one-size-fits-all” disease. So, these are some suggestions for techniques. Trovato can work with you and your family to develop more specific techniques or you can use these as a guide to help you think outside of the box! The first step to supporting a person with dementia is to begin to understand and empathize with the challenges they may be experiencing this time of year.
Have suggestions? We’d love to hear them!