Tips to Help Ease Restlessness in Dementia

By Published On: January 11, 2023Categories: Alzheimer's and Dementia, Caregiver Tips, Dementia, Senior Health

Implementing these key strategies can help family caregivers ease restlessness in dementia.


Wandering. Pacing. Fidgeting. When you begin to see these signs in someone you love with dementia, it’s time to take action before they escalate to aggression, agitation, or leaving the house. But identifying the reasons behind restlessness in dementia is sometimes half the battle.

For starters, consider the following questions:

  • Could the senior be hungry or thirsty?
  • Is there an overabundance of disturbances in the room?
  • Are there any visitors who could be causing distress or anxiety?
  • Might they have to use the bathroom?
  • Are they bored?
  • Is anything causing the individual pain or physical discomfort?
  • Have they been inactive too long and need to move?

If you are unsure, try fulfilling physical needs first. Ask if they would like a snack or something to drink. Look for nonverbal clues which could reveal discomfort, and call the physician right away for direction if you suspect the individual is in pain.

If the issue appears to be emotionally driven, try distracting the individual with a soothing activity that they really enjoy, such as listening to their favorite music and dancing together to channel that restless energy in a positive way. Go for a walk outside if weather permits, or move into another room of the house for a change of scenery and to work on a puzzle together, read, or participate in another enjoyable activity.

The Unique Challenges of Sundowning

Sundowning is a common cause of restlessness in dementia that occurs late in the afternoon and into the evening. It makes the person feel especially anxious about being in the wrong place or wanting to go “home,” even when they are already at home. If restlessness is occurring during this particular time of day, it can be very hard for family caregivers who need to be able to rest and get a sufficient amount of sleep.

To help a person with sundowning, a team approach is frequently best, allowing the primary caregiver to take the break they need during the night while ensuring the person stays safe. Steps you can take include:

  • Talk to the person’s neighbors to let them know about the situation so they can help you keep watch in case the individual does find a way to wander away from home.
  • Create a tag with identifying and contact information for the individual, or purchase an identity bracelet or necklace, and make sure the senior is wearing it all the time.

Contact Golden Harmony at 919-426-7522 for a professionally trained and experienced dementia caregiver to take the night shift or any other shift you may need a hand with. We can provide someone you love with the patient, compassionate, and creative care they need to overcome restlessness and other difficulties of dementia, while giving you peace of mind and a much healthier life balance. Reach out today to learn more about our home and dementia care in Apex, NC and nearby areas.