Tips for Coping with Sundown Syndrome
Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia are degenerative diseases. As a memory illness progresses and a senior’s memory fades, the symptoms they present change. Sundown syndrome, also known as sundowning, is a symptom of Alzheimer’s that occurs in the middle stages of the disease. The sleep disruption, confusion, and behavioral changes that come with sundowning can be overwhelming for family caregivers.
Below are some tips for coping with sundown syndrome and other Alzheimer’s symptoms:
Recognize the Signs
Sundown syndrome, or sundowning, received its name because it’s symptoms typically occur in the late afternoon or evening. Alzheimer’s symptoms such as confusion are exacerbated by the end-of-day physical and mental exhaustion. According to the Alzheimer’s and Dementia Caregiver Center, as many as 20 percent of seniors with Alzheimer’s will experience increased anxiety, confusion, and agitation late in the day (http://www.alz.org/care/alzheimers-dementia-sleep-issues-sundowning.asp) Being able to recognize sundowning and other Alzheimer’s symptoms is the first step in providing proper dementia care.
Manage Triggers to Create a Safe Environment
Poor lighting and shadows often increase confusion and anxiety with seniors experiencing sundowning. Keep the home well-lit in the evenings to help your loved one recognize their surroundings and that they are safe. Since exhaustion contributes to Alzheimer’s symptoms, make a comfortable and safe sleep environment. Sticking to a sleep schedule and avoiding mental stimulants like caffeine, sugar, or watching television before bed are also helpful.
Know When to Look For Help
Even when you are able to identify Alzheimer’s symptoms and the negative effects of things like sundowning, there may come a time when professional help becomes necessary. Professional caregivers and senior living facilities specially trained in memory care may be better suited to care for your loved one. What is most important to know when coping with memory illnesses is that you are never alone.
ComfortCare Homes of Wichita, KS provides memory care services to the following cities and neighborhoods: Wichita, Derby, Augusta, El Dorado, Newton, Hutchinson, Pretty Prairie, Kingman, Norwich, Conway Springs, Belle Plaine, and the surrounding areas of Kansas.