Sep 28, 2017 by Erin Couchell
September is World Alzheimer’s Awareness Month so we thought we would put together a short list of tips by professional caregivers for dementia care and dealing with sundown syndrome. If your loved one has recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease or dementia, you may have heard the term sundowning thrown around. However, not many people are really aware of what it is exactly.
Surprisingly, sundown syndrome is one of the most common problems associated with Alzheimer's disease or dementia in general. It does not present in all cases, and generally, it presents in the middle stages of the disease as a senior's memory begins to fade. It includes a wide variety of symptoms, but the most common are sleep disruption, confusion, and behavioral changes.
Family caregivers find all of these symptoms very disturbing and difficult to come with. It is precisely for this reason that it may be a good idea to begin looking into dementia care options in your area even if your loved one has only just been diagnosed.
The following are some important tips from professional dementia caregivers to take into consideration:
Sundown syndrome is referred to as sundowning because individuals with Alzheimer's disease or dementia begin experiencing increased symptoms towards the end of the day. This is the result of a number of factors, but the most important is both physical and mental exhaustion. One in five seniors experience higher levels of anxiety, confusion, and agitation in the evening and at night.
There are things you can do to hopefully help lower symptoms of sundowning. As most seniors get anxious and confused in poorly lit rooms, making sure that lighting is as good as it can be can help. In addition, exhaustion is a major factor in sundown syndrome, so finding ways for your loved one to rest well is very important. What works for each individual will depend on their particular preferences, but, in general, developing a soothing bedtime routine and even napping during the day can help.
Early stages of Alzheimer's and dementia can be handled by most family members. However, as the diseases progress, it may become very painful for family members to go through it alone. Professional dementia care has helped many families cope better knowing their loved one is being cared for by someone who is more suited for the work. Caregivers can also be a tremendous source of support for family members who are going through this for the first time.