My mother always is waiting for someone to take her home to her mother home. Most times this is late afternoon and she does definitely suffer from sundowners. Many times we can distract her and say tomorrow knowing that she won't remember it but sometimes it really upsets her as she won't be distracted. Do you have any suggestions

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We have a lot of residents who feel the same way later in the afternoon.

– Does something trigger her anxiety? For example, we have a resident who starts yelling for her parents, but after we give her something to eat, she calms down because she’s usually just hungry. 

– I would find out if something is triggering her behavior. I would also find out WHY she wants to go see her mom. We have a resident who usually thinks her mom is sick and wants to go take care of her. Sometimes telling her that a caregiver is already at the house helps.

– Keep in mind that what works once will not work every single time. 

– I would suggest to her that you’d take her now, but it’s getting dark, and you prefer to wait until the morning to drive over. (I have used this many times with certain people.)

– I would try talking to her about her mom, but in the present tense. You’re on the right track by “embracing her reality” and letting her know that you can go tomorrow.

– If she wants to talk to her mom, could you let her call a blank voicemail and leave a message? That way she’d feel as though she let her mom know that she’d be there tomorrow.

Hope that one or all of these help you!

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Rachael Wonderlin has a Master’s in Gerontology and is the author of two published books with Johns Hopkins University Press. She owns Dementia By Day, a dementia care consulting company.

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