How to care for someone with Sundowning

By February 19, 2017 No Comments

People with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia can get particularly anxious in the evenings due to Sundowning. Find out more about it, and how you can help your relative cope.

30 October

Understanding Sundowning

If your loved one has Alzheimer’s you may have noticed they getparticularly anxious towards the end of the day or wakeup confused in the night. This is something called Sundowning.

‘Sundowning’ or ‘Sundowners Syndrome’ is one of the side effects associated with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. The exact cause of Sundowning is unknown, but doctors believe it’s a symptom of the diseases’ effect on the brain, which causes increased confusion and anxiety towards dusk and in some people problems sleeping during the night.

The contributing factors

20% of people with Alzheimer’s suffer from Sundowning
One of the first steps to caring for someone with Sundowning is to identify the potential triggers, these include: 

  • Low light
  • Physical or mental exhaustion at the end of the day
  • Disruption to the body’s internal body clock
  • Not being able to differentiate between dreams and reality

Helping your loved one cope

There are a number of things you can do to help your relative cope and lessen the affects of Sundowning:

  • If they become anxious, try to keep calm yourself and reassure them. Holding their hand will help as this often has a soothing effect (try to avoid sudden movement).
  • Ensure the room they are occupying in the evening is brightly lit
  • Playing music quietly can often have a soothing effect and will help your loved one to relax. Excessive noise should be avoided, as this will have the opposite affect.
  • Draw the curtains so that they don’t see the sky change from day to night
  • Encourage your relative to be active during the day and avoid napping – this will reduce the chances of them waking during the night
  • Keep them occupied with calm activities such as arts and crafts or folding laundry
  • Try to establish a routine in the evenings as this will provide reassurance and a feeling of familiarity
  • Install safety locks and devices to ensure your loved one doesn’t wakeup and wander outside during the night

Talk to a doctor

If you’re loved one is suffering from Sundowning its always advisable to book an initial appointment with your doctor, as other medical conditions such as bladder or incontinence problems can often exacerbate the affects of Sundowning and make it difficult to sleep.

To find out more about the support Carewatch provide dementia sufferers click here

Article by CarewatchCare