Your Biological Clock is not Ticking (Daylight Savings)

By: Gary Joseph LeBlanc

Your biological clock is ticking. But what if I were to tell you it doesn’t keep the correct time anymore? This is basically what my dad’s physician told me when I asked, “How in the world can an 85-year-old man stay awake for 30 hours straight, sleep for two, and then remain open-eyed for another 30?”

His doctor explained how my father no longer had any comprehension of time, and that during the latter stage of Alzheimer’s it is common for the patient to keep going for days. His animate routine, however, was practically killed me! I’ve learned to be a light sleeper from years of caregiving, but this excursion placed me into a dreadful stage of exhaustion.

What remained was not only the fact that Dad was continuously awake, he was on the far side of restless—endlessly rubbing his hands, sitting down in a chair only to get back up within minutes, placing himself too often in harm’s way. It got to the point where I was afraid to use the bathroom, terrified of what might happen during the few minutes I was away.

Even more perplexing was that the medications specifically prescribed to help him relax at night had zero effect. When a dementia patient has this condition, you both just have to ride it out.

Dad’s doctor told me of horror stories of late stage Alzheimer’s where his patients were staying awake for five whole days before meeting their Maker. This physician also reminded me—every patient responds differently. Dubious reassurance!

I will hope along with you that this won’t happen to your patient. But, if it does, you’ll have to pull out all your skills at caregiving, keeping his or her hands and ever-depleting mind constantly entertained for safety’s sake. Redirection must be applied, keeping him or her safe and occupied.

Use all outside assistance available to you. This certainly may include bringing in Hospice at this time. There’s no reason to try to outlast them. It is improbable that you’ll be able to keep up any kind of pace for that long a cycle when it barely phases them. You’ll become a train wreck!
Make sure you use what hours of relief you do get, for solid sleep. You never know just how long the next ordeal could last.

Speaking of time elements, there’s something else we need to discuss: we’re approaching that time of year where our clocks get turned back due to daylight savings. This can create a difficult couple of weeks for you and your loved one with dementia. It has been said that the Monday following daylight savings there are more car accidents then any other Monday of the year. Now add dementia into the situation. If your loved one is already experiencing Sundown Syndrome (Sundowners) in the late afternoons, his or her symptoms are most likely going to worsen for a while.

Sundowning is a term describing the onset of heavier confusion and intensified agitation for dementia patients. Usually this begins anywhere from late afternoon to dusk. I also want to mention that due of my mother’s extreme anxiety, and dealing with vascular dementia, her sundowning was overwhelming on most days.

The best advice I can give caregivers dealing with the symptoms of Sundowners is to be proactive. If you know the confusion and anxiety increases around 4:30 pm., you need to keep these patients active and redirected about 3:30 pm., or earlier. Due to the setting of our clocks forward, (Daylight Savings) you may want to start your proactiveness around 2:00 pm., some days ahead of the time shift.

We need to ease folks into this new routine and when it comes to caring for someone with dementia, routine is key! All the best to you and your loved one.

This article will be appearing in the
Hernando Sun & Feather Sound News

This week’s Dementia Mentors’ short video.
Artwork with Lewy Body Dementia
Kathleen Anduze talks about doing artwork with Lewy Body Dementia and learning to adapt.
Dementia Mentors’ Videos!

Upcoming Speaking Events

Below is a listing of my upcoming
seminars and training events.
If you love my writings, you’ll love my speaking events. I have learned it’s best to not only educate people on dementia through their minds, but through their hearts.

If you’re not in the the Florida area, invite me to come to your area or put me in contact with someone in your area to schedule an Dementia Care Seminar or train your staff above and beyond like anything you’ve seen before!

Pasco County Sheriff’s Department
Dementia Awareness Class
Shady Hills. Florida
March 19th

Hernando County Sheriff’s Department
Dementia Awareness Class
Brooksville, Florida
March 20th

Starling at Nocatee Assisted Living
Dementia Care Seminar
999 Crosswater Parkway
Ponte Verde Beach, Florida
March 21st 9:00 am

Halifax Health Living Center / YMCA
Dementia Care Seminar
500 Sterthaus Drive
Ormond Beach, Florida
March 21st 2:30 pm

Zicharon Organization
Dementia Care Seminar
Brooklyn, New York
April 17th 7:00 pm

Dementia Related Diseases & Care
Grace Presbyterian Church
8375 Spring Hill Drive
Educational Building B
Spring Hill, Florida
April 23rd 7:00 pm

Dementia Friendly Business Training
Highland County Sheriff’s Office
Sebring, Florida
April 24th 2:00 pm & 6:00 pm

Sunshine Gardens
Dementia Care Seminar
311 NE 4th Ave
Crystal River, Florida
May 2nd 2:00 pm

Dementia Friendly Business Training
Highland County Sheriff’s Office
Sebring, Florida
May 8th 2:00 pm & 6:00 pm

Rose Gardens of Fort Myers
Dementia Care Seminar
2117 Earl Road
Fort Myers, Florida
June 14th 2:00 pm

Available on Amazon

Managing Alzheimer’s and Dementia Behaviors
(Health Care Edition)

Now NAB 3.5 CEUs APPROVED

AFTEREFFECTS OF CAREGIVING

STAYING AFLOAT IN A SEA OF FORGETFULNESS

Also don’t forget to go to
www.dementiamentors.org and check out our short amazing videos all done by those living with dementia and the rest of the website.

Stay strong everyone!
Gary Joseph LeBlanc

Leave a Comment