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Supporting people with dementia when the clocks change

 As winter comes to an end and the days become longer, it’s soon that time of year again when the clocks go forward. Get prepared ahead of time for the change on Sunday 31 March. 

For the majority of people, changing the clocks it can be a minor nuisance, but for people living with dementia it can be disorientating and sometimes cause anxiety, confusion and distress. 

As daylight begins to start earlier and end later, people with dementia may find it difficult to differentiate between 6am and 6pm.  This can disrupt their circadian biological clock and make it hard for them and those who care for them to get enough sleep.    

Not feeling ready to sleep because it is light outside can cause the person to become overtired, which can cause low mood and affect their ability to think clearly. They may also become irritable and distressed. 

4 tips to help people with dementia cope with the clocks changing

Prepare on Saturday evening

Think about having dinner and going to bed an hour earlier on Saturday, so that the person can still get their usual amount of sleep and wake up at their usual time on Sunday.  In this way, the person’s routine will only be different for an evening rather than a full day.    


Having a routine during the day and at bedtime can help regulate a person’s disrupted body clock. Doing regular activities at the same time each day – for example going for a walk after breakfast, can help a person with dementia make sense of the time. 

Outside time

Going outside and getting some gentle exercise can help the person feel sleepier during the evening so they go to bed at their usual time.  

If the person is unable to go outside, helping them keep active during the day can have a similar effect. Think about using blackout curtains to reduce sunlight in the evenings too. 

Auto-setting clocks

We have a fantastic range of radio-controlled and auto-setting clocks and watches available in our shop. 

Our clocks adjust automatically to the correct time, removing the necessity of resetting clocks and watches manually. This time saving and reassuring feature can be especially beneficial for people living with dementia.  

We also have ‘Day and Night’ clocks which have all the features of a traditional clock, but also include simple day and night visual symbols to help people with dementia distinguish the time of day. 

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