Most commonly seen in patients with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, Sundowning appears at the end of the day, especially during the time that the sun sets in.
The majority of symptoms include agitation, restlessness, irritation, mood swings or confusion. The person may be more demanding or can manifest differently due to the absence of light apparently. The most critical hours are late in the afternoon or at a short distance from it. The scientists believe that sundowning happens because, in cases like dementia, the natural biorhythm of a person does not work properly anymore and so, they get confused. Still, experts admit that they can’t yet be certain of the reasons why Sundowning happens.
Considering that this type of disease is hard on both the patients that suffer from it and on the persons next to them, these are some helpful pieces of advice to take into consideration during Sundowning:
- Loud noises can produce Sundowning. Visits should also be considered and postponed for another moment, not late in the afternoon or early in the evening.
- Coffee and sweets should be avoided during the second part of the day. Thus, a rising level of caffeine or sugar can have an undesired effect and provoke the symptoms of Sundowning.
- The temperature or the light in a room could be a triggering factor for someone who has Alzheimer. Try to pay attention to the environment in which the person stays and this way, to try and reduce the triggers.
- Keep a routine during the day. This could help your loved one to feel calmer and in control during Sundowning. A schedule offers the sensation of being in control of things, by knowing what’s to come.
- A restful sleep will improve the state of mind and the mood of an Alzheimer’s or dementia patient. Be careful not to over stimulate the person with physical exercises for about four hours before sleep time.
- Reduce the stress that can take a toll on an Alzheimer patient, by doing carefree activities, like crafts, reading, playing relaxing music, etc.
- Eliminate alcohol or cigarettes from your loved one’s diet. Besides the fact that they can affect their health, they will also worsen the effects of Sundowning.
- Keep a light dinner. A meal full of carbohydrates can trigger the symptoms of Sundowning. It is best to choose an easy meal at night time and let the body process the food without difficulty. At lunch, you can opt for whatever the person desires.
Regardless of the exact cause that produces Sundowning, patients with Alzheimer’s or dementia will tend to get frustrated, agitated, and also there is a possibility that they will scream of even think they see things that aren’t in the room.
Being cold, hungry, stressed, depressed or scared can have a negative effect on their state of mind and can lead to an avalanche of factors that will aggravate their condition during Sundowning.