Tips for Seniors Adjusting to Daylight Savings

Tips for Seniors Adjusting to Daylight Savings

Twice a year, we are forced to deal with the annoying repercussions of shifting the clocks by an hour— back one hour in the fall (think: fall backward) and forward one hour in the spring (think: spring forwards). In a few days, that time comes again. On Sunday, November 5, all your automatic clocks will go back one hour, so don’t forget to set your manual clocks to the right time before bed!

While falling back is easier than springing forward, it still has to potential to cause problems for seniors. If the change in time causes problems for you or your loved one, try these tips for seniors adjusting to daylight savings to make it easier.

Tips for Seniors Adjusting to Daylight Savings

Gradually adjust your sleep schedule a few days ahead of time

For those on a fairly strict sleep schedule, you will want to spend time adjusting. Starting today, go to sleep and wake up 15 minutes later than usual. By the time daylight savings actually starts, your internal clock should be perfectly set.

Adjust your medication schedules too

For most seniors, the problem with daylight savings in the fall is not about their sleep schedule—it’s about their medication. Certain conditions require medications that must be taken at specific times, or in accordance with meals. A change in waking hours can have an impact on your medication schedule, which could have negative repercussions.

Just like you did with your sleep schedule, adjust your medication schedule by about 15 minutes every day. If you have to take your medication with food, be more diligent about your mealtimes for a few days. Don’t hesitate to set medication alarms as necessary.

Step into the sun

By pushing the clocks back one hour, we get less daylight at the end of the day. Sunlight has a direct impact on our circadian rhythms, which influences our sleep. The time change can affect not only that, but our mood and energy levels. Try to make an effort to get some natural light in your day in the morning or early afternoon.

If you feel a significant effect on your mental health as we settle into winter and the days shorten, consider purchasing a light therapy lamp or box. These devices mimic natural sunlight, which can help combat seasonal affective disorder.

Preparing seniors for daylight savings

Limit caffeine and naps

When it comes to anything involving sleep, you should make a point to cut back on your caffeine intake. You can feel the impacts of caffeine for as long as five hours, according to the Sleep Foundation, so make a point not to drink anything with caffeine for at least six hours before you go to sleep. You should also cut back on foods with natural caffeine, such as chocolate.

Taking too long of naps can also impact how you sleep at night. Try to avoid taking naps, and if you have to, limit it to no more than 30 minutes.

For those who experience sundowners syndrome

If you have a loved one struggling with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, you are likely already aware of how daylight savings can lead to problems. Sundowning, in particular, can be exacerbated following the change in time.

In addition to the above tips, turn on lights early in the afternoon to brighten the home and keep it lit after dark, so the sudden darkness isn’t so jarring. You should also make a point to keep most of their appointments and activity during the daylight hours, so to help them naturally adjust.

For help at home, consider home care

As you age, it’s natural to find it more difficult to complete your activities of daily living. This is nothing to be embarrassed over, and certainly shouldn’t be shouldered on your own. If you think you would benefit from assistance at home, consider the help of an at-home caregiver. These professionals can help with anything from personal care, to medication reminders, to meal preparation.

Home Care Powered by AUAF is one of the leading providers of home care in the Chicago area, and we would be happy to assist you too. For more information on our services, give us a call at 773-274-9262.

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