Jun 10, 2019 by Stephanie Howe - Owner, Comfort Keepers
Sundowning relates to a state of confusion that occurs in the late afternoon or early evening. Sundowning, or sundown syndrome, is a common Alzheimer’s and dementia disease, most often affecting people who have mid- to late-stage dementia. It is sometimes referred to as “late-day confusion.” Symptoms and side effects brought on by sundowning are confusion, disorientation, aggression, or anxiety.
Many behaviors of Sundown Syndrome can be mental or physical. Sundowning behaviors and symptoms can occur very suddenly and for no apparent reason, or it could result from a frustrating situation. While this may be difficult for family members to deal with, remember that the person who has Alzheimer's or Dementia is not doing it on purpose.
- Fatigue or tiredness at the end of the day, both mentally and physically, due to sleep issues
- A biological mix-up between day and night in their "internal body clock.”
- Low lighting and shadows which Alzheimer's disease patients to misinterpret what they see, so they become confused and scared
- Difficulty in differentiating reality from dreams
- Change in their daily routine
- Signs of any infection, such as a urinary tract infection
- Provide them with maximum comfort. For loved ones suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or Dementia, the world can be a scary place. When you are sick, you want to be surrounded by comfortable things and people. The same goes for your loved one with Alzheimer’s so surround them with things that put them at ease. Comfortable pillows, fluffy blankets, family photos, and other familiar objects can help your loved one feel cozy. Playing soft music could also help in providing comfort.
- Make a comfortable sleeping environment by keeping a warm room temperature. Provide window locks and nightlights to help promote safe surroundings. Door sensors or motion detectors are especially helpful in alerting the family members that the person is up and wandering. Knowing that your loved one is in a secure environment can help eliminate sleep problems for the family caregivers.
- Light up the home in the evening. Agitation or mood swings can be caused when surroundings are dark or unfamiliar due to inadequate lighting. Installing a bright light in homes may be helpful to regulate their sleep schedule and put them at ease. Nightlights are useful to keep a room well lit at night.
- Maintain a predictable daily schedule. Encourage your loved one with Alzheimer’s or Dementia to stick to a regular schedule that helps them feel at ease. The daily schedule should include bedtimes and meal times.
- Plan more active days to discourage afternoon napping, plan activities for the morning or early afternoon. Try to fit daily physical activity into your loved one's routine, but not less than four hours before they go to bed.
- Minimize stress as much as possible in order to help your loved one remain calm in the evening hours. Stick to known, simple activities that aren’t too different, challenging or fearful. Snuggling with a loved pet could be a very comforting and straightforward action. Playing soft and quiet music may contribute to creating a peaceful environment as well. As the Alzheimer’s disease begins to progress, watching TV or reading a book could be hard to follow which could ultimately frustrate your loved one.
- Identify what triggers them and take note of it. Try to avoid distractions during evening hours such as loud noises or coming and going throughout the house. Composing a journal of activities that agitate your loved one can help to avoid agitation for your loved one in the future.
- Be mindful of your condition as well. If you feel stressed or tired at a certain time of day, your loved one could sense this and become agitated. It is important that you help yourself by making sure you get plenty sleep at night. Respite care is a great way for you to minimize your stress and rest.
Sundowning disease can be exhausting for not only the seniors diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease and other forms of Dementia, but it can also be very challenging for their families. Home care is a great option if your loved one is experiencing any behavioral symptoms of the disease.
Here at Comfort Keepers, we not only understand all of the challenges that come along with the disease, but we also offer many different care services that will help your loved one that is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Our professional caregivers are trained to care for older adults who display sundowning behavior. For more information or to talk to one of our caregivers, contact us at (732) 250-3999.