Sundowning and How Homecare Can Help

Sundowning and How Homecare Can Help

Sundowning is also known as "late-day confusion." However, the symptoms of sundowning don't stop just when it's dark. If your loved one has Alzheimer's, sundowning makes it difficult for them to fall asleep or stay in bed. Both of which can lead to fall injuries or dangerous wandering in the night.

When sundowning becomes extreme and more than the caregiver can handle, then in-home care can help.

What Causes Sundowning?

Why sundowning happens is still unknown. People in the mid or advanced stages of dementia can become restless, agitated, confused, or irritable towards late afternoon and early evening.

Studies have shown that one reason for sundowners is that people with dementia and Alzheimer's have a confused internal body clock. This would make it hard for them to fall asleep. Then because of lack of sleep, the symptoms become worse.

But there are triggers that aggravate the symptoms. These triggers could be if the person is overly tired, hungry, or thirsty, stressed, has a disrupted sleep cycle, is bored, in pain, or depressed. Plus, if the person has drunk too much caffeine or alcohol before going to bed can increase sundowning behavior.

Behaviors of Sundowning

What are the behaviors of sundowning? Sundowning is actually a collection of different behaviors that are disruptive. These behaviors only happen during the late afternoon and evening hours. The behaviors could be confusion, aggressiveness, anxiety, restlessness, increased verbal activity, panic, pacing or wandering, and resistance to redirection.

Sometimes, people who are suffering from sundowners will experience hallucinations. They could refuse to take their medication. The person insists on going home even if they are already there or in a nursing home.

Caring for a Person with Sundowning

Caring for a loved one with sundowners can be exhausting and overwhelming. The constant shifts in moods and agitation can cause the person to be inconsolable. There are a couple of things which can be done to help your family member. Reduce clutter, noise, or how many people are in the room to reduce overstimulation and stress.

At the end of the day, switch to soothing music, take the person for a walk to physically tire them out, or read to them. Minimize shadows and the outside daylight changing by closing the blinds and curtains at suck. Also, turn on the inside lights to brighten the rooms.

Creating a routine and sticking to it will help your loved one feel comfortable and calm. Also, schedule a larger meal for lunch and a smaller meal for dinner. A larger meal at night can cause feelings of restlessness.

When You Need Help

There will come the point where help will be needed. After a certain point, you will become exhausted and work out. This is called caregiver burnout and is a severe condition that people taking care of loved ones develop. The person is so concerned with taking care of the family member that they overlook their own wellbeing.

There isn’t anything wrong with needing help. Help is there in the form of in-home caregivers from a homecare health agency. These workers have the experience and knowledge to care for a person who has sundowning. The professional caregivers can give the loved one’s caregiver a much-needed break.

There is respite care where the in-home caregiver stays with the loved one while you take a vacation or goes somewhere for a weekend. There is daily care when the professional caregiver helps with personal care, light housekeeping, and dietary needs. There is evening care when the loved one goes into sundowning mode, and the in-home caregiver can take over.

If you need help with a family member who has sundowners, we here at Right at Home can help. Give us a call today!

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