Sundowning, or sundown syndrome, affects some folks who have Alzheimer’s illness and dementia. People with dementia who “sundown,” encounter periods of increased confusion and agitation as the sun goes down; and occasionally through the night. Sundowning may prevent individuals with dementia from sleeping well. It might also make them more prone to wander. Sundowning is really a standard cause of caregiver burnout, and can be experienced by as much as 20% of individuals that have Alzheimer’s disease or alternative types of dementias. People who sundown often become more forgetful, delirious, disoriented, agitated, uneasy, and unsettled. In addition, individuals who experience sundowning regularly have trouble sleeping. They may pace the floor, ramble, shout, or become combative. Sundowning generally peaks during the middle phases of Alzheimer’s, but as the disease continues to progresses it generally diminishes.
What Can Cause Sundowning?
The causes of sundowning are perhaps not well understood. Some research indicates that sundowning might be related to changes to the brain’s circadian pacemaker, a cluster of nerve cells in the brain the keeps the body on a 24 hour rhythm. Studies in mice indicate that neurochemical changes in the brain that are characteristic of Alzheimer illness may play a part. Researchers found that older mice make more of an enzyme that’s connected with stress and agitation till than middle-aged mice which get ample sleep. However, the correlation with Alzheimer’s disease and sundowning is still unclear. Several things may raise the risk for sundowning in individuals. These include pain, fecal impaction (serious sort of constipation), poor nutrition, adverse interaction from multiple medicines, illness, lack of natural sleep as a result of disruptive sleep environment.
Treatments for Sundowning
Some possible ways to decrease the severity of sundown syndrome include:
Increase daily activity. Being more active through the day can help Alzheimer’s patients sleep better at night. Daytime naps should be discouraged by caregivers as well. Encourage daily exercise, like walking.
Monitor dietary intake and limit caffeine and sugar intake to the early morning. Exposure to bright lights during the day might reduce some sundowning symptoms, especially when used in conjunction with exercise, like walking.
Change sleeping environment. Permit the individual to change bedrooms or to sleep in a favorite chair or sofa. Keeping the area partially lit might also help reduce confusion when a person wakes during the night into a seemingly unknown environment.
Seek Medical Advice. A healthcare provider will help look for physical problems like pain, infections, or bladder problems that may be contributing to nighttime agitation and confusion. They must also regularly review prescription medications to ensure they are appropriate.
Plan an early dinner. Keep snacks light before bed time.
Supply calm assurance. Gently reorient the patient to what time it really is and where he could be. Avoid arguing and provide reassurance that the patient is ok.
Be patient, and ask for advice or help from friends, family, and health professionals. Adult Day Health Care is a great answer to help with sundowning!