A common side effect of mid-stage and advanced dementia and Alzheimer's, Sundown Syndrome is characterised by confusion and agitation after the sun sets.
Those with relatives in dementia care homes are likely familiar with the symptoms of Sundown Syndrome. A common side effect of mid-stage and advanced dementia and Alzheimer's, Sundown Syndrome is characterised by confusion and agitation after the sun sets. Many healthy people - even children - are affected by mood swings during the late afternoon and at the end of the day, as it's normal to be tired and overstimulated. Since dementia care patients' minds are not functioning normally, it makes sense that their symptoms appear worse. Here's how you can help ease your loved one after the sun sets.
1. Develop a routine
New routines and unfamiliar activities can be hard for dementia patients to process, and confusion and anger are normal responses to new situations. To avoid the symptoms of Sundown Syndrome, stick to a tried-and-true routine with your loved one every night. This could involve dinner, a short stroll, a bath or television time before settling into bed.
2. Limit naps
Excessive sleep during the day can make it difficult for your loved one to fall asleep at night, which can increase stress and anxiety. However, getting rest during the day is important and can help ensure that your loved one has enough energy to get through the day, so don't skip naps altogether. One or two naps no longer than 20 minutes each should be enough to re-energise your relative without affecting the bedtime routine.
3. Turn on lights
Since Sundown Syndrome is thought to relate to the body's circadian rhythms, light may play an important role. To decrease your loved one's chances of experiencing agitation at night, it may help to keep your home well-lit during the late afternoon and evening. This can improve your relative's mood and clearly distinguish between day and night.
4. Stay active
Fatigue is often a trigger for Sundown symptoms, but feeling confused and anxious isn't conducive to a restful sleep. Ensuring that your loved one is active throughout the day by doing appropriate physical and mental exercises can encourage him or her to go to sleep faster at night and feel well-rested come morning. Ask your loved one's health care provider about activities that are appropriate for his or her level of health.
5. Watch his or her diet
Sugary foods and caffeinated beverages can lead to restlessness and anxiety if they're consumed after mid-day. Limit these substances to the morning hours to avoid issues. Drinking a lot of fluids before bed can also increase restlessness and may prompt your loved one to wake up during the night.
At Sunrise Senior Living, our elderly care homes are staffed with professionals who can soothe your loved one's Sundown symptoms and provide a peaceful, comforting atmosphere. For more information, please select Contact us at the top of this page.