Help Your Loved One Suffering with Sundowning

Posted: 1/28/2017 12:05 PM by Interim HealthCare
People with Alzheimer’s may develop changes in their behavior that lead to problems at dusk and into the night. This is known as Sundowning.

What Causes Sundowning?
Experts believe the degeneration that is taking place in the brain of an Alzheimer’s patient is the cause for this affect. One in five people with Alzheimer’s will experience confusion and anxiety later in the day. There are several factors that can contribute to this occurrence.
  • Your loved one is exhausted and tired by the end of the day, making their brain cells and synapses even less proficient.
  • Reduced lighting can increase shadows, causing confusion.
  • Waking up from a dream and not being able to distinguish between the waking and the dream state.
The Behaviors Associated with Sundowning
There are several behavioral changes noted with this aspect of Alzheimer’s. People can exhibit one or several of these characteristics:
  • Become increasingly agitated and irritable
  • Exhibit signs of confusion
  • Become disoriented in familiar places
  • Become suspicious of others to the point of accusing friends, family and strangers of theft or hiding specific items on purpose.
  • See or hear things that are not there.
How to Help
  • Make sure your parent’s home is well-lit. Installing sensors that turn on lights with movement is a good idea at a certain stage of this disease. This is a big part of the proactive strategy to limit sundowning in your loved one’s life.
  • Keep a routine so that your loved one knows what to expect. Routine is very soothing to those with Alzheimer’s.
  • Avoid caffeine, nicotine, sugars and alcohol later in the day. Last large meal should be served around 3 pm. Food after this time should be limited so that the digestive system can rest at sleep.
  • Keep the surrounding environment peaceful by limiting or turning down the volume of the TV. Avoid stimulation during this time of day and keep activities and dinner time relaxing. Consider playing soft background music that is designed for relaxation. YouTube has a variety of music in this category to choose from.
  • Heighten your awareness during this time of day to see if you can identify triggers that appear on a regular basis. Once determined, limit them to the best of your ability.  
  • You may find that your loved requires additional care at this time. Consider acquiring the services of an elder care provider—a professional who has had experience caring for those with this ailment.
More information about Alzheimer's and Dementia care.