Isn’t it interesting, we use fancy terminology in this work with precious people? I’ve been reminded and I love passing it on that sundowning means a person needs sun. Glorious sunshine has so many benefits. One is resetting our circadian clock. Circadian rhythm refers to our body’s light = awake and dark = sleep rhythm.
So, what a gift we can give people to give them more sun and sunshine. What if we make getting outside in the warmer summer weather the focus? The focus. Personally, I would just make it a high priority during the nicer weather. Of course, hold events outside but also just dedicate time to going outside. So instead of some other offering that is only inside, maybe instead offer Getting Outside.
Increased sunlight exposure reinforces each person’s natural sleep cycle (Mead, 2008). Get all on board and open room shades and blinds in the morning. Increase sun exposure in early morning and late afternoon. Serve meals in dining rooms with lots of natural light. Exposure to sunlight 30 – 60 minutes is recommended.
What if we brought the important to exposure to sunlight into daily life for people living in the homes where we work as well as into each individual’s care plan?
Did you know this is considered a culture change practice as identified on the Artifacts of Culture Change 2.0 (https://www.pioneernetwork.net/artifacts-culture-change/)?
Artifact 45. Each resident’s care plan includes preferences and accommodations needed for going outdoors.
As well, also considered a practice of changed institutional culture is discovering and including in a person’s care/care plan his/her preferences for a good night’s sleep.
Artifact 48. Each resident’s care plan includes customary preferences for a good night’s sleep, e.g., lighting, pillows, blankets; acknowledging that preferences may vary on a daily basis.
Getting individuals outside and/or in front of sunny windows is a great approach for all to be aware of. Perhaps we lead and teach others to offer sitting near a window more often and especially when going outside it too difficult.
And it works. After sharing this with colleagues, they said they helped a person who has dementia and who “sundowns” get more sun. They reported, “It works.” It has helped him to not get so agitated when the sun is going down.
It makes me so happy that we can help meet this need for more sun in the natural purview of our work, how about you?
Mead M. N. (2008). Benefits of sunlight: a bright spot for human health. Environmental health perspectives, 116(4), A160–A167. https://doi.org/10.1289/ehp.116-a160.
Carmen Bowman, MHS, is a former activity director, first certified activity professional to be a surveyor, CMS federal surveyor who taught the Basic Surveyor course and is an Eden Alternative Associate and Mentor. She has fun calling herself a Regulator turned Educator as owner of Edu-Catering: Catering Education for Compliance and Culture Change. She helps teams chip away at institutional culture with a strong foundation of regulatory requirements – moving away from traditional activity programing to offering real life. Activity consulting, personalized continuing education. Compliance and culture change workbooks at www.actionpact.com. Cutting edge-ucation nominal pay-per-view training videos at www.patreon.com/educatering, email@example.com 303-981-7228 www.edu-catering.com The Culture Change Minute for free www.facebook.com/Edu-catering