If your loved one is experiencing Alzheimer’s disease or another kind of dementia, you might be observing changes in their behavior early in the evening.A phenomenon called sundown syndrome, sun downing, or sundowners.
It’s a sign of dementia where sundowning can trigger sudden anxiety, mood swings, restlessness and energy surges, sadness, hallucinations or delusions, and increased confusion. These may lead to rocking, pacing, crying, screaming, resistance, disorientation, anger, violence or even aggression.
For some, the behavior soon ends. For others, it remains, disturbing their sleeping hours, so they are awake all night and feel sleepy during the whole day.
There are many explanations about why this happens. It might have to do with the extreme fatigue, dimming light, thirst, hunger, hormonal imbalances or pain or discomfort as the sun goes down. Evening and darkness might tap a person into fears of being insecure and unsafe. Whatever the reason, seeing their loved one with such symptoms can be frightening for family members.
Following are a number of tips from Dementia Care providers for managing sundown symptoms:
FIND AND MINIMIZE TRIGGERS
Look for dietetic triggers and adjust drinking and eating schedules (like limiting sugar, caffeine, and liquids later in the day). Does the home become more hectic at the time of sundown? Are a lot of people talking at once during meals? Is the radio or TV on? Is there any kind of change in caretakers that causes more confusion? Is extreme fatigue setting in as sundown approaches?
UPHOLD ROUTINES AND STRUCTURE ACTIVITY
Maximize activities earlier in the day and reduce napping (especially if your loved one is not sleeping at night at all). Try to reduce stressful, challenging tasks around the evening and at night. Stick to a regular daily routine: There’s security in the familiar.
SIMPLIFY SURROUNDINGS AND ADJUST THE SLEEPING ATMOSPHERE
A lot of sensory stimulation can cause confusion and anxiety, worsened by changing light. Try to minimize the visual, physical, and auditory mess. At night, keep the sleeping room cool and calm (experts usually recommend a temperature below 70 degrees), dim enough (try curtains or an eye mask, plus dim lights for safe and secure navigation). You can also avail the services of light housekeeping in Maryland maintain a safe and clean environment.
Try to keep attention away from anxieties and troubling thoughts by redirecting or diverting to favorite activities, animals, foods, and people that calm your loved one. Perhaps they are eased by taking a walk, watching a favorite TV show, snuggling with a pet or reminiscing. My grandfather loves to listen to The Lawrence Welk Show; providing him headphones directly to the TV is almost always a real distraction.
Since Alzheimer’s is advanced disease, your loved one will most likely need help from Dementia Care Services in Montgomery County by the time they reach the advanced stages of the condition, perhaps even earlier. That is the reason why it is essential to find a care solution best suited to your parent’s needs before their situation becomes critical.