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Five Ways to Cope with Sundowning

Five Ways to Cope with Sundowning

As dusk settles on the day, people with Alzheimer’s and dementia may have increased behavioral problems or difficulty sleeping. These symptoms are known as sundowning, and may last into the night. Sundowning is also known as late-day confusion, and becomes prevalent in mid-stage to advanced dementia. Because sundowning continues into the night, it’s hard for people with Alzheimer’s to fall asleep and stay in bed. As a result, they and their caregivers may have trouble getting enough sleep and functioning well during the day.

Here are five ways to help your loved one cope with sundowning.

  1. Stick to a Schedule – People with dementia have trouble learning new routines. When introduced to something new, they can become stressed, which can lead to sleeplessness. Keeping them on the same schedule every day will help them to be more calm and collected and sleep better at night.
  2. Keep it Light – Turn on lights in the evening and keep the home as well-lit as possible. Brighten the lights with higher wattage bulbs. And close the draperies at dusk to minimize the shadows.
  3. Keep them Active – People with sundowning have trouble sleeping at night, which results in fatigue. Fatigue in turn, can trigger sundowning, which creates a vicious cycle. Those suffering from fatigue may want to sleep more during the day. This makes it difficult to fall asleep at night. Keeping seniors awake and active during the day can decrease sundowning smptoms at night.
  4. Avoid Stimulants – There are foods and activities which may contribute to sleeplessness. Seniors who are experiencing sundowning should avoid nicotine, alcohol and beverages with caffeine. They should eat a light meal at night to feel more comfortable. Also, discourage watching television when they wake up at night, as it may stimulate the senior.
  5. Create a Calm Environment – For someone with dementia, the world can be a scary place. Comfort and familiarity helps them cope. Fill your loved one’s life and home with items they find comforting. Furnish their space with cherished items such as family photos, special mementos, and their favorite blanket. This may help ease the transition and curb their sundowning symptoms.

If the person with dementia is awake and upset at night, approach him or her in a calm manner. Never argue with them, but try to find out what they might need. Offer reassurance and try to get them back in bed without using physical restraint. A little understanding goes a long way.

If you or an aging loved-one are considering Senior Care in Inverness, IL, please contact the caring staff at Inspired Care Home Health today. Call and talk to our friendly caring staff at 847-787-7572.

Sources: Healthline.com, Alz.org, Alzheimers.org