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Daylight Saving Time Presents Unique Challenges for Individuals with Alzheimer’s and Dementia

As we approach the biannual transition to Daylight Saving Time (DST), Alzheimer’s Association is shedding light on the impact of this time change on individuals living with Alzheimer’s and dementia. This pressing issue requires attention and understanding from communities, caregivers, and healthcare professionals to ensure the well-being of those affected.

Daylight Saving Time begins on Sunday, March 10, as we set our clocks ahead one hour. This seemingly simple time adjustment can disrupt the daily routines and internal clocks of those with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Individuals living with Alzheimer’s and dementia often rely on structured daily routines to minimize confusion and anxiety. The disruption caused by DST can lead to various challenges, including:

Increased Sundowning: The shift in daylight hours can intensify the symptoms of “sundowning,” a phenomenon where individuals with dementia become more agitated, confused, and anxious during the late afternoon and early evening.

Sleep Disturbances: Changes in daylight hours can disrupt sleep patterns, leading to sleep disturbances and increased nighttime wandering, which can be unsafe for dementia patients.

Difficulty Adapting: Individuals with Alzheimer’s and dementia may have difficulty understanding the concept of time change, leading to further confusion and disorientation.

Stress on Caregivers: Caregivers often bear the brunt of these changes, having to adapt to the shifting schedules and increased caregiving challenges.

The Alzheimer’s Association recommends the following strategies to help ease the transition for individuals with Alzheimer’s and dementia:

Gradual Adjustment: Begin shifting daily routines in the days leading up to Daylight Saving Time to help individuals adapt more smoothly.

Maintain Consistency: Keep meal times, medication schedules, and bedtime routines as consistent as possible.

Increase Natural Light Exposure: Encourage individuals to spend time outdoors during daylight hours to help regulate their circadian rhythms.

Communicate Clearly: Inform individuals about the time change in simple terms and be patient when answering questions.

Seek Support: Caregivers and family members can reach out to local support groups, healthcare providers, and organizations like Alzheimer’s Association for guidance and resources.

The Alzheimer’s Association remains committed to raising awareness about the unique challenges faced by individuals living with Alzheimer’s and dementia, especially during the Daylight Saving Time transitions. Our mission is to provide support, resources, and education to families and caregivers who are dedicated to improving the quality of life for their loved ones.

To learn more about the impact of Daylight Saving Time on individuals with Alzheimer’s and dementia, or to access resources and support, please visit alz.org.

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