Archive for the ‘Caregiver Stress’ Category

What is Sundowning?

December 5th, 2017 No Comments


Many who care for those with Alzheimer’s or other related dementia agree that symptoms get worse in the late afternoon and early evening–the time just before and after the sun goes down. This neurological phenomenon has been named Sundown Syndrome and is often called “sundowning.” Sundowning is the increased state of confusion or agitation that many people with memory issues experience as the day’s natural light fades.

Increased shadows, darkness, and changing ambiance can cause confusion and distress in people who have Alzheimer’s and dementia. This stress and agitation can, in turn, be frightening and/or confusing for loved ones who don’t understand why their loved one is behaving in certain ways at certain times of the day.

The more you know and understand about Sundowning, the more you can help your loved one when and if these symptoms occur.

Symptoms of Sundowning

Symptoms of this condition are associated with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia and may include:

  • Increased confusion as natural light begins to fade
  • Increased mood swings
  • Increased agitation
  • Decrease in energy; lethargy
  • Increased stress or visible worry
  • Increased tremors or shaking
  • Increased hostility or aggression
  • Increased disorientation

People who have dementia and who suffer from Sundowning Syndrome may pace nervously or behave in an odd manner. They may display visible signs of worry such as crying or mumbling to themselves. Dealing with these symptoms can be confusing and frustrating, but there are ways to lessen their severity and make your loved one more comfortable during the toughest part of their day.

How Can You Help?

There are a few ways your help your loved one with dementia make an easier transition from daytime to nighttime.

  • Keep the home well-lit
  • Minimize shadows, especially in rooms your loved one spends the most time in
  • Encourage activity during the day
  • Ensure a regular eating and exercise schedule
  • Consider hiring a professional home health aide who specializes in memory care to provide extra support for your loved one and yourself

For those who have dementia and Alzheimer’s, a specialized caregiving routine can ease symptoms and help them feel more comfortable, no matter the time of day.

Contact Visiting Angels today to learn more about our certified home health aides and how we can help your loved one live more independently at home.

How to help dementia sufferers sleep through the night…

August 11th, 2015 No Comments

10 Ways to help a person sleep when they have memory loss and confusion

A common NJ senior care caregiver challenge is getting their loved one with dementia to sleep peacefully through the night. Many times, especially beginning with sundown, they become anxious and restless.

10 simple and practical tips that will help:

  • 1. Diet: Make sure to limit caffeinated beverages to mornings; alcohol should also be avoided
  • 2. Limit Naps: Set and keep regular times for rising in the morning and keep naps to morning hours, if needed
  • 3. Active Days: keep the person as active as possible throughout the day–take a walk with them, have them fold laundry, rake leaves, etc.
  • 4. Make Evenings Relaxed: Develop relaxed routines each evening, such as listening to music or watching TV; keep excess activity, noise, and visitors to a minimum
  • 5. Don’t Go To Bed Hungry: A light snack before bedtime is ideal
  • 6. Keep a Diary: Maintain a log of activities, food, medications, or beverages that may contribute to their sleep disturbances
  • 7. Bedtime Routine: Keep it relaxed and easy. If they refuse to go to bed, let them sleep in the chair or couch. If they don’t want to wear their PJs, let them wear their day clothes
  • 8. Bedroom: Keep the bedroom comfortable–temperature, soft music, comfy PJs, blankets, nightlight
  • 9. Safety: Keep the path to the bathroom (and other areas of the house) clear, block dangerous parts of the home, such as the stairway, use audible monitors if necessary
  • 10. Provide Reassurance: If they wake up in the night, offer reassurance instead of arguing or explaining as you slowly get them back into bed

For more NJ elder care information on dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease, visit our Alzheimer’s Awareness page.


8 stress-busters for family caregivers…

November 20th, 2013 No Comments

Family Caregivers: Take Care of Yourself, Too!

Family caregivers of their parents or older loved ones often experience stress–it’s a fact. Focus on the rewards of caregiving–it helps strengthen your relationship with your parent, helps you feel loved and wanted, and it can boost your self-confidence! Below are ways to reduce caregiver stress.

Try these tips to help you feel your best:

  • Make sure you go to your own medical appointments
  • Watch your diet and eat healthy food
  • Get enough rest each night
  • Get at least 45 minutes of exercise each day
  • Treat yourself at least once a week

Read all you can on how to deal with your parent’s disease. This will help you be proactive and positive about the issues you’ll be presented with. Check your local hospital or Office on Aging to see if there are any support groups or classes on the disease.

When you’re feeling stressed, try these 8 stress-busting tips:

  • Get assistance from your local elder care services in NJfor:
    • transportation
    • delivery of meals
    • home health services
    • non-medical home care services
    • home modifications to make the house more aging-friendly
    • counseling: financial and legal
  • Don’t turn down help from family & friends; when they offer, tell them how and when to help!
  • Don’t volunteer to host holiday meals or other activities
  • Realize you’re not perfect–do the best you can
  • Have a daily routine and prioritize your responsibilities
  • Don’t lose touch with your family and friends
  • Become a member of a support group for caregivers
  • Maintain your sense of humor 😀

If you work full time, ask your human resource manager about taking unpaid time off under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act.

If you’re concerned about your loved one’s safety, get them an emergency response device, such as emergency pendants, intercom systems, webcams, etc.

If your stress is causing you to physically or emotionally harm your loved one, seek professional help right away.

Consider hiring a professional home health care service such as Visiting Angels in Central NJ for assisted living in your own home. We can help with household chores, personal grooming & hygiene assistance, help with shopping and errands, providing caring companionship, and even caring for your pets.

Photo: by Alexp

Family caregivers, are the holidays too stressful for you and your older parents?

December 11th, 2012 No Comments

We all love the holidays and the joy of thinking of and getting together with family and friends. But for NJ elder care family caregivers of older loved ones, the holidays can bring on extra stress. Thoughts of loved ones who’ve passed away, feelings of loneliness, feeling overwhelmed, and unrealistic expectations may all contribute to holiday stresses. But by following a few simple tips, you can help keep the holiday blues at bay.

Read the tips to help seniors beat the holiday blues. Happy holidays to you!


Are you a family caregiver? Take this stress test…

November 14th, 2012 No Comments

If you’re a family caregiver of your older parent or loved one, you know how stressful your NJ elder care “job” can be. Take a minute to answer these questions to see if you’re taking on TOO much stress:

  • Do you sometimes feel angry while you’re caring for your loved one?
  • Do you feel guilty your care isn’t good enough because you have too many other things to do?
  • Do you feel your social life has been put on hold because you need to care for your parent?
  • Do you feel exhausted at the end of the day?
  • Are feeling overwhelmed?
  • Have you lost or gained a lot of weight recently?
  • Have you lost interest in things you once found enjoyable?
  • Do you get angry or irritated easliy?
  • Do you worry constantly?
  • Do you often feel sad?
  • Do you get headaches, body pains, or other physical ailments frequently?
  • Are you abusing alcohol or drugs (including prescription drugs)?

Score yourself. If you said “yes” to 0-3 answers, your stress level is LOW. If you had 4-7 “yes” answers, your stress level is MEDIUM. If you answered “yes” to 8-12 answers, you have a HIGH stress level.

Check back again for ways to reduce caregiver stress!

Photo: by Darnok


Are you facing the challenges of long distance caregiving?

March 15th, 2012 1 Comment

Are your parents over an hour away? While it’s not easy to maintain a long distance caregiving routine, it can be done. Help from family, friends, church members, and senior organizations can help with elder care. If your parents need help with shopping, preparing meals, dressing, bathing, or other every day activities, it may be time to consider home care…let us help your parents! Read more about long distance caregiving.

How to beat caregiver stress…

February 15th, 2012 No Comments

Caring for your elder loved one can be very rewarding, but also stressful and exhausting at times. To help make your life easier, check out our Caregiver Page on our NJ Senior Care website. If offers tips and solutions on how to make the most out of your unique situation. offers a list of what’s “okay” for a caregiver to feel, such as “it’s okay that you don’t have the answers.” Check out their list at

Do you drive your older parents? What to look for in a car…

November 9th, 2011 No Comments

If you’ve driven your senior parents around for any length of time at all, you know that driving them brings special challenges. Driving to doctor appointments, to the grocery store, to the pharmacy, to the mall–a lot of time spent driving other people can add stress to an elder care New Jersey caregiver’s day. Some cars are too low to the ground, making it difficult to get out. Some are too high to step into. Not enough trunk room. Getting lost. Not to mention the sky-high gas costs! Read this AARP article ( before you buy your next car. It describes the top features to consider before making that purchase.

For example:

  • Easy access for people and stuff
  • Navigation system, Bluetooth, crash response systems, and other technology
  • Good gas mileage

Your parents will thank you!

Tips to Beat the Holiday Blues

December 8th, 2010 No Comments

Elvis sang of a “blue Christmas”…are the blues getting you down this holiday season? This month we’re focusing on helping everyone to have stress-free (non-blue) holidays. Visiting Angels’ co-founder, Jeffrey Johnson, wrote about this seasonal topic in the article entitled, “Tips to Beat the Holiday Blues.” Click


December: Stress-Free Holidays

December 1st, 2010 No Comments

Our December Community Resource Bulletin focuses on Stress-Free Holidays. We offer tips to help seniors & family caregivers enjoy the season. The holidays don’t need to be a stressful time for seniors and their families! Read our December Community Resource page to have Stress-Free Holidays.