Sundowning is a behavior associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. People with sundowners experience greater confusion, anxiety, and agitation in the late afternoon and evening hours. It most commonly occurs in older adults who are in the middle or late stages of dementia. Unfortunately, people with sundowners often suffer from sleep disorders, too. If they wake often during the night, they may exhibit sundowners symptoms each time they awaken, making it even more difficult for caregivers to get them back to sleep.
Sundowners combined with a sleep disorder is difficult to manage, but there are some things that can help older adults with sundowners to sleep better.
Here are some tips…
Sundowners may be a result of changing circadian rhythms, which regulate the body’s internal clock and tells a person when to sleep and when to wake up. Exposure to light in the early morning hours may help to reduce confusion and agitation in the afternoon. Try placing a full-spectrum fluorescent light near the older adult for a few hours in the morning. In the afternoon, when the person seems to be more confused, try turning on additional lights to make the house brighter.
-Limit Naps During the Day
Long naps during the day can make it harder for seniors to sleep at night. Keeping your aging family member active during the day can prevent them from napping. Try engaging them in activities they enjoy during times when they might normally want to nap. Physical activity may be especially beneficial since it can help them sleep better at night.
-Try Relaxation Techniques
When your aging family member starts to get agitated, try using some techniques to help them relax. Massaging or holding their hands can be comforting. Turn on some soft music or sounds, like ocean waves or birdsongs. If the person is comforted by interacting with a pet, allow them to spend time with the pet, though it may be wise to supervise the interaction to ensure both remain safe.
-Track the Behavior
It can help to keep track of what happens before and during sundowners episodes. This can help you to notice trends in activities, environment, foods, and other things that seem to bring sundowners on. It’s also a good idea to write down things that help alleviate the behavior.
If you have an aging family member with sundowners, hiring a senior care provider can make caring for the person easier. A senior care provider can be hired to come to the house during the day to help keep the older adult active, which can help them to sleep better at night. They can go for walks with the senior, help them with activities, and keep them safe. A senior care provider can also spend the overnight hours at the house, helping the person through episodes of sundowners.
If you or an aging loved-one are considering senior care in Cape Coral, FL, please contact the caring staff at Touched by An Angel Senior Care today. Call 239-215-8803 today.