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Alzheimer's Care And Managing Sundown Syndrome

Oct 5, 2017 by Kelly Lindell

Recognize dementia symptoms and know how to help your senior loved one

Alzheimer's disease is one of the most harrowing out there. Both individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer's and their loved ones suffer profusely as the disease progresses and the unfortunate fact is that there is no cure yet. However, experienced professionals that have been providing Alzheimer's care for some time will all tell you there are always things that can be done to make the progression a little less painful.

A primary focus of Alzheimer's care, besides making seniors suffering from the disease comfortable and doing all we can to keep them calm and less anxious, is managing sundown syndrome. If your loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and is starting to experience symptoms, you have probably heard about sundowning.

Sundowning, or sundown syndrome, is a term used to describe behavioral changes people with Alzheimer's disease experience in the later hours of the day and at night. The cause of this phenomenon is still unconfirmed, but many believe it results from exhaustion.

September is World Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, so we thought we would look into some tips on dealing with and managing sundowning from Alzheimer's care professionals.

So far, research into sundown syndrome has shown that as many as one in five older adults with Alzheimer's experience an increase in confusion, anxiety, disorientation and agitation at night. Currently, scientists attribute this to mental and physical exhaustion, possible mix-ups in our biological clocks, poor lighting can cause confusion in older adults who do not see so well, emotional reactions to caregivers who may also be exhausted, and general tiredness and need for sleep. 

Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia sadly are progressive and degenerative diseases. This means that they are incurable and only get worse with time. Sundowning is experienced most often in the middle stages of the disease when a person can still go back to normal during the day.

As a caregiver, there are things you can do to help your loved one and make them more comfortable. Let's take a look at some tips from Alzheimer's care professionals:

  • Follow your loved one closely as the day wears on and keep track of sundowning signs.
  • Once you notice your loved one may be experiencing sundowning, manage environmental and behavioral triggers.
  • Make sure your loved one's home is well lit to prevent confusion.
  • Develop or stick to a bed-time routine that makes your loved one feel relaxed and comfortable.
  • Make sure your loved one is not taking in any stimulants like nicotine, coffee or alcohol that can impede sleep.
  • Stay as active as possible to take your loved one's mind off of their predicament.

Reference:

  • http://www.alz.org/care/alzheimers-dementia-sleep-issues-sundowning.asp
  • https://www.worldalzmonth.org/ 

Comfort Keepers offers in home care and senior care to the surrounding areas of Minnesota:

Minneapolis, Edina, Mounds View, New Brighton, Golden Valley, Roseville, Crystal, Columbia Heights, New Hope, Fridley, Brooklyn Center, W. Coon Rapids, Hopkins, Nokomis, Minnetonka, Champlin, St. Louis Park, New Hope, Brooklyn Park, Wayzata, Orono, Plymouth, Mound and Shorewood.

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