If you are caring for someone with Alzheimer’s, you have seen first-hand how quickly your role can change from offering occasional support to suddenly shouldering the demands of caring for that loved one 24 hours a day. Alzheimer’s is a cruel, life-changing illness – and that person needs your courage and support now more than ever. But even you struggle to appropriately handle certain situations or symptoms, many of which you just now see for the first time. This includes a behavior known as sundowning.

In my book, You’re not Alone: Living as an Alzheimer’s Caregiver, I write about the ever-changing relationship between the caregiver and care recipient and how the caregiver’s role changes as the illness progresses. But we did not have a chance to dive into sundowning, one of many challenging behaviors you will likely see from your loved one.

This blog post quickly summarizes what sundowning is and provides a few solutions to help you combat these behaviors.

What Is Sundowning?

Sundowning is a term that describes when an Alzheimer’s patient experiences heightened confusion as the day progresses. You may have experienced this already with your sweet mother, grandparent, spouse, or close friend, where their cognitive abilities seem fine at the beginning of the day but take a turn for the worse as daylight begins to fade.

The cause of sundowning is unknown, but some factors may contribute to the symptoms, such as fatigue, low lighting, and increased shadows. Symptoms of sundowning in Alzheimer’s patients can include any of the following behaviors:

Difficulty sleeping
Inability to stay in bed

The good news about sundowning is that it is generally predictable. That sounds weird to say, but hear me out. You may notice that it begins at about the same time each day. Therefore, there are ways to prepare yourself and your loved one.

Keep a consistent routine.
Provide a scheduled quiet time — This should be no more than an hour.
If the person cannot rest, try soft music, low lighting, and a hand or back massage.
After quiet time has ended, provide adequate lighting throughout the house.
As sundowning behavior begins, keep your loved one busy to distract them.

Call Leigh Hilton PLLC Today!!

As a caregiver for someone with Alzheimer’s, it is helpful to remember that chronic diseases and chronic illnesses have a way of changing relationships for many reasons and in many ways. Roadmaps such as the above-mentioned tools can be helpful, but they are not easy initially and require patience and practice.

At Leigh Hilton PLLC in Denton, we are in awe of clients juggling so much for themselves and loved ones with Alzheimer’s. Our goal was to build a practice with a team of professionals who work together to have your back– whether that means putting steps in place to protect you and your loved ones or offering practical advice. Leigh Hilton PLLC wants to be your first call every time for any estate planning or elder law need. We look forward to serving you.

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