For those who have a loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and living in nursing homes, it may become noticeable that the evening time brings on some odd symptoms in a loved one that causes agitation or confusion. They may be suffering from Sundowners Syndrome. The following are some things that family members need to know about Sundowners and what can be done to help:
What is Sundowners Syndrome?
Sundowners Syndrome is an issue that affects Alzheimer’s patients in the early evening to later evening hours of the day. During this time of day, the patient will experience confusion and irritability. The patient may also try to wander away from his or her home. This is why is it is particularly important for the patient to be in a safe, secure environment like nursing homes or other long-term care facilities.
The cause of Sundowners Syndrome is not known exactly. Some researchers have theories on the condition. Some doctors believe that the accumulation of the day’s senses become stimulated and it becomes overwhelming. Other theories believe that it is caused by a combination of hormonal imbalance and fatigue.
Tips That Can Help With Sundowners Syndrome
While there is no way to cure Sundowners Syndrome, there are a few things that can be implemented into their daily lives to lessen the effect of the symptoms. Consider doing some or all of the following:
– Have a daily activity or socialization period each day. This can be something as simple as playing cards, having lunch out, or a group activity.
– Provide a healthy diet. Be sure to avoid sugar and caffeine as much as possible, especially after the morning hours.
– Keep the house as light as possible once the sun goes down.
– Provide a daily physical activity. This not only provides a distraction, but also promotes healthy sleep habits.
– Implement relaxing activities. Play soft music, burn lavender essential oils, and serve some decaffeinated herbal tea.
Other Ways to Help
It is crucial to pay close attention to the behavior of Sundowners patients. If any patterns become apparent, be sure to take note of those in order to anticipate that behavior and be prepared for it. This will provide the ability to avoid any additional stressors, like visitors or other distractions. If a loved one is still experiencing agitation and nothing has helped, check to see if they are in pain. Sometimes they cannot verbalize how they are feeling. Ask specific questions that only require a yes or no answer. Ask about head pain, stomach pain, and so on until you get an answer.
Alzheimer’s can be a very stressful and sad time for everyone involved. If a loved one is progressively declining or showing signs of Sundowners Syndrome, it may be necessary to consider nursing homes as an option. These facilities can provide them with a stable living environment as well as the security they need to remain safe.