I have cared for many Alzheimer’s and Dementia loved ones with Sundowning. It never ceases to amaze me, when the sun goes down and nighttime approaches so do the symptoms. I have had loved ones come down with fever for no reason, fear, more confusion than a normal, claustrophobic feeling, and more. The best thing that I found to help the most is light therapy and to tire out your loved one during the day. I have tried it all and I am here to explain it all.
What is sundowning?
Sundowning is one of several symptoms. It affecting your loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia. It is also called late-day confusion. In this condition, as the sun goes down (hence the name sundowning). Your loved one begin experiencing symptoms of confusion and agitation. It is observed in individuals who are in the advanced stages of dementia. In the preliminary stages, one may not experience sundowning. But, with each passing stage, as the internal body clock changes. Your loved one will gradually fall prey to sundowning.
Why do our loved ones fall prey to sundowning?
It still remains to be a mystery with medical science. While the actual cause is still not understood. We continue to hold dementia the “culprit”. When the sun goes down and evening approaches, agitation, and hyperactivity start. Dementia disturbs the body’s internal clock.
Possible causes of sundowning
Even though dementia is to be the sole culprit of sundowning. Exploring the other causes also becomes necessary to understand the disease better. This will also allow family caregivers to articulate better-coping strategies. Here is a list of possible causes of sundowning:
- An unbalanced internal body clock
- Experiencing boredom
- Suffering from pain
- Being hungry or thirsty
- Excessive tiredness
- Lack of sleep at night
Also, to the above-mentioned causes. Various studies have shown. That decreased light and shadows can lead to symptoms of sundowning. Your loved one with Alzheimer’s may perceive the shadows as some frightening objects. which eventually leads to confusion, fear, and anxiety. It is important to realize, that these are some of the causes. That may cause agitation and other behaviors during sundowning.
Strategies to cope with sundowning
Handling loved ones with dementia and Alzheimer’s is undeniably a tough task. Your loved ones with mid-stage dementia or Alzheimer’s. Are more affected by symptoms of sundowning. Sundowner’s syndrome or more commonly known as sundowning. It is a condition that usually begins during the late afternoon, soon after the sun begins to set. The behaviors usually begin with confusion. And gradually your loved ones will exhibit agitation and hyperactivity. Dealing with such a problem will not be an easy task.
Tips for family caregivers to deal with sundowning
Dealing with sundowning was never easy. As the symptoms usually begin during late afternoon or evening hours. The time when family caregivers come back home after a long day at work. It is that time of the day when the family caregivers are themselves tired and want to rest and relax. However, keeping one’s cool is very important. Rather than saying something nasty to your loved one and repent later. Here are various strategies to cope with sundowning:
- Create a timetable and follow it religiously. Set a time for their meals and medicines. Following a schedule throughout the day will help reduce stress at the end of the day. A proper timetable will ensure that all activities are complete. Make sure they are in a set order and at a designated time each day. This will reduce any confusion and stress that can arise from an organization.
- Try and schedule all tiring activities during morning hours. This will help them stay calm and relaxed during the afternoon and evening.
- During the evening, make all possible efforts to lessen the noise in the room. You can also play soft music, provided your loved one enjoys music. You can also try and reduce the number of people in the room. Encourage only close friends or a family member to spend quality time with your loved one.
- During the evening you can also take them for a walk to a nearby garden. Avoid parks or places which are usually overcrowded during this time. A quiet stroll in the garden or a beach will allow your loved ones to stay calm and composed. which would in a way avoid symptoms of sundowning from taking place.
- You can even try and distract your loved one. And keep them busy with some simple activities like laundry folding. Offer them their favorite drinks or snacks, and get into a light conversation with them.
- Ensure that your loved ones are getting enough rest during the night. You can also encourage them to take short naps during the afternoon. Yet, make sure that the naps are not for long durations.
- Make exercise a daily routine for your loved ones. Exercise helps reset the person’s body clock. Which plays a vital role in preventing sundowning.
- Avoid all kinds of alcoholic and caffeine beverages during the late afternoon. Drinks containing caffeine can excite the nervous system. Making your loved ones agitated and hyperactive.
- Some studies suggest light therapy can reduce agitation and confusion. Consider placing a fluorescent light about three feet away from your loved one. Do this for a couple of hours each morning. You can also try brightening the lights when your loved one feels confused or agitated. This is the light I suggest.
Take note of the occurrence
All these tips would in some way help you take better care of your loved ones with sundowning. Old age is an age, where our parents need our help. More so when they are affected with certain disease conditions. Making them comfortable during their difficult times should be our prime responsibility.
Everyone has a distinctive occurrence for sundowning. To help determine your loved one’s set-off, use a notebook to document their daily activities, surroundings, and behaviors. Look for patterns to learn which activities or surroundings seem to make their symptoms worse. Also check out this post on the different stages of Alzheimer’s.
Knowledge is key here; the above information will help you out to help your loved ones. check out this site for additional information as well. It can be difficult to attend to your loved one with sundowning, but it’s not impossible. With the right knowledge, you can do this. Don’t forget about taking care of yourself and keeping your business going while you are caregiving. I’m here to assist you on this journey, schedule your planning session with me so we can look at how to keep your life and your business running smoothly.