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How the End of Daylight Saving Time Affects People with Dementia

October 27, 2020

by Marci Balonick, LCSW, Clinical Manager/Caregiver Specialist, House of Welcome Adult Day Services

On November 1, we will set the clocks back an hour for the end of daylight saving time. This means it will be lighter in the morning, and it will get dark earlier in the afternoon. Many people have difficulty adjusting to time changes, but for those with dementia it can be particularly confusing. 

Tips to Time Change When Caring for a Person with Memory Loss:

  • Have your environment match to the time of day—Open the blinds/drapes in the morning so your loved one knows it's daytime. Close the blinds/drapes once it gets dark. This can help orient your family member.
  • Maintain a routine—The time change may impact your loved one’s schedule. He or she may wake up earlier or later, go to bed early, or be hungrier at different times of day. Try to maintain your usual routine as much as possible. Disruption in routines or lack of routine may cause confusion. Be sure to maintain a routine for naps, if naps are taken, as those with dementia can become more confused when they wake up from sleep or a nap. 
  • Expect increased confusion—When it is bright in the morning and begins getting dark in the afternoon, it can be confusing to determine the actual time. People living with memory loss may see it is dark outside at 4 p.m. and wonder why they haven’t had dinner yet.
  • Be flexible/plan for extra snacks—While it’s important to maintain your routine, flexibility will help you and your family member. Your loved one may get confused with meals. You may want to plan for extra snacks to avoid any confusion with forgotten meals/snacks. Make sure your family member gets enough to eat during the day and stays hydrated.