If your loved one has Alzheimer's disease or dementia, you might have noticed changes in their behavior during the late afternoon or early evening – commonly known as sundown syndrome, sundowners, or sundowning. While it can be challenging, we're here to provide practical tips to ease this time of the day.
Experience Confusion and Agitation Every Evening? Discover the Truth Behind Sundowning.
If you notice your father getting increasingly confused and agitated at the same time every day, he may be experiencing sundowning. But what exactly is sundowning, and why does it happen?
Sundowning is a collection of symptoms that typically occur when the sun is setting, hence the name. These symptoms include confusion, agitation, anger, frustration, and a refusal to cooperate. People with sundowning may also exhibit fidgeting, wandering, and pacing.
The causes of sundowning are not fully understood, but there are certain factors that can make it worse. For example, fatigue, hunger, and changes in lighting can exacerbate symptoms. Additionally, the transition to shorter days and longer nights during daylight savings time can trigger sundowning.
So, how can you help alleviate the anger and moodiness associated with sundowning? Establishing a consistent routine is key. Ensure your father goes to bed and wakes up at the same time each day. If he wakes up during the night, have a routine in place to help him return to sleep.
It's also important to discuss any medical issues that may contribute to confusion and agitation with his doctor. Conditions like urinary tract infections can cause unexpected anger and irritability in the elderly. Providing a snack between lunch and dinner can help prevent anger caused by hunger. Additionally, make sure to keep the lights in the house on before sunset to avoid a shadowy environment.
Pay attention to your father's mood swings and increased confusion, and take note of the time and circumstances. Did certain lighting conditions or something you said or did trigger his behavior? Once you identify patterns, arrange for additional support during those hours. This could involve taking breaks or enlisting the help of a home care aide.
Home care services not only assist with daily tasks and provide companionship for your father, but they also offer support for family caregivers. Consider discussing the benefits of respite care with a home care specialist.
If you or a loved one experience sundowning, don't let it overshadow your quality of life. Take proactive steps to understand and manage this phenomenon effectively.
Our goal is to make the management of sundown syndrome more manageable and rewarding for both you and your loved one. Understanding the condition and implementing appropriate strategies can enhance the quality of life for those with dementia and their caregivers.
Download our fact sheet today for valuable insights into managing sundowning and embrace a more confident and compassionate caregiving journey.