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Helping Your Aging Loved One Adjust To Time Changes

Time changes, whether from traveling from one coast to another or when the clock changes to and from daylight-savings time can wreak havoc on our systems and our circadian rhythms. With November 6 being the date this year when we set our clocks back by one hour there are some ways to help your body adjust and to help your aging loved ones adapt to the time.

Daylight savings Time

It’s believed that the autumn “falling back” of the clock is easier for our bodies to adjust to than is the losing of one hour of sleep when we “spring ahead” in March. When the clock is moved, regardless of direction, it means a reset to our natural 24-hour cycle and the way in which we adapt depends on myriad factors.

The rule of thumb to adjusting to the time change, whether forward or back, is that it will usually take about one day to adjust to each hour of time change. Be aware though, that even a one hour time change can negatively impact your loved ones; it could lead to confusion, lack of coordination and a change in moods.

Here are tips to make the time zone transition easier:

  1. Go to sleep when it’s dark. Our bodies aren’t designed to sleep during the day time, so resist the urge to nap when adjusting to a time zone change. Stay awake as long as you can and sleep once the sun goes down.
  2. Wake up with the light. When the sun rises it is a signal to our bodies that it’s time to wake up and start the day. Go outside and soak up some sunshine for at least fifteen minutes a day if possible to help your body adjust to the time change. Spend your days in brightly lit – preferably with natural light.
  3. Embrace the time it is. Instead of saying, “it really should be X o’clock” go with the new time, change all of your clocks and don’t keep referring to the time it “should be.”
  4. If you know you struggle with the changes of time because of daylight savings time, shift your thinking and your sleep schedules over time. Go to bed or wake up (either earlier or later, depending on the time shift) fifteen minutes earlier or later. Rather than dealing with the switch in a one-hour chunk, breaking it into smaller increments, over time – take a couple of days – might make it easier.
  5. This isn’t time related, but change the batteries in smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors at the same time you change the clocks. Once you’ve changed the batteries, test them to assure they’re in working order.

Switch your mealtimes as well as your sleep times. If you eat at 5 o’clock, then keep with that time, regardless of whether the time is switching forward or backward. If you’re a caregiver, make certain your loved ones adjust well to the time change, and help them switch the clocks in their homes.

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