July 12, 2016
Help With Alzheimer’s Sundowning
Although the causes of sundowning are unknown, an effective plan can be made to reduce most of the difficulties that occur. Normal sundowning typically lasts for a couple of hours and does not involve destruction of property nor physical attacks on others.
Those who become physically violent and show genuinely paranoid tendencies need to have psychiatric diagnosis and perhaps medications to ease their terrors.
It is imperative that a caregiver refrain from being agitated, needy, upset, and angry. Sundowning in an adult is like a tantrum in a small child. It represents real feelings, but requires a calm, kind, centered adult response.
Remind yourself that it will pass, and listen carefully, because the emotional meaning within the sundowning is real. While nobody knows the actual cause of this response, it can reasonably be assumed that it is a multi-factor issue:
1. Exhaustion — it’s very tiring to have dementia;
2. Hunger — late afternoon drop in blood sugar;
3. Dehydration — increases dementedness;
4. Accumulation of past trauma;
5. Sense of emotional loss, sorrow and fear — because of dementia itself;
6. Recycling of un-dealt-with life traumas.
Encourage your person to sleep longer in the morning, take an afternoon nap, and go to bed earlier. Attend to your person about an hour before usual sundowning time so the body can absorb the food and drink.
(Read more: Long-term Care: Rising Costs and Potential Savings)
1. Use pure essential lavender oil diffused wherever you are — at home, in vehicle. Notable studies have shown they reduce agitation and bring calm.
2. Go out for a drive, a walk, a meal — whatever works;
3. Likewise, at home, use photo albums of old-time family members, not the living. Have tissues for possible weeping.
4. Maybe a great comic video works — you’ll already know what works, so use that as the diversion.
1. Weeping is cathartic;
2. Try to be the comfort, without using words.
3. This too shall pass.
4. Sundowning doesn’t hurt.
Make your plan. Experiment until you find what works. Something will work, I promise you.