Sundowner’s Syndrome Symptoms
What is the most difficult time of day for caregivers dealing with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia? Many agree that the evening hours can be especially challenging as Sundowner’s Syndrome is ever-present in the after-hours.
What is Sundowner’s? In simple terms, it is an ailment that causes symptoms of confusion that often occurs after sundown. But the condition is anything but simple.
Let’s think for a minute. Healthy people in their prime are often moody at night. Children — who don’t know any better — also tend to act up at night. So, when someone has a disease in the brain, it only makes sense that darkness in tandem with exhaustion propagates behavioral issues. As mentioned in a previous post on sundowning and dementia, natural circadian rhythms respond to the loss of sunlight; it’s a very human response to be more depressed at night. But the issues are heightened in dementia sufferers.
So, what do you do? Although everyone is different, there are ways to help make life a little easier during those dusk hours.
Top Ways To Ease Sundowning
- Regulate sleep. Knowing your loved one’s regular routine is important. You don’t want to overdo napping, otherwise they will be unable to sleep through the night, but sleep does have rejuvenating effects. Encouraging rest throughout the day with one or two catnaps — no more than 20 minutes or so — can make all the difference.
- Encourage light and positive ambiance. Keeping rooms well-lit helps enhance the mood and distracts from the fact that it’s dark outside. Having some music playing that your loved one enjoys can also help boost spirits, and encourage happy reminiscing and memories. If there’s a window, allow for light exposure in the morning that can also help set a natural internal clock.
- Encourage an active day. It’s no secret that keeping an active mind and body with stimulating and healthy activities and exercises is good for all. This is especially true for those who suffer from Alzheimer’s. Being cognizant of a healthy balance of activity, designed for the individual senior, is what’s important. Whether it’s encouraging exercise, such as walking or gardening, or nourishing the mind through a trip to the museum or by reading an appropriate book or watching a comforting show — stimulating mental engagement gives your loved one purpose.
- Think about an appropriate medication. Sometimes, if nothing else is working, it may be time to consider an appropriate medication. There are specific medications on the market for those with Sundowner’s, so talk to your loved ones doctor about what may be right for him or her.
We are grateful to share this information from Dana Larsen. She is a senior living writer whose mission is to educate and empower caregivers and equip them with the resources and knowledge they need to care for their elderly loved ones.