Alzheimer's patients' symptoms are just as varied and unique as the patients themselves. As an in-home care agency serving clients in San Jose, San Francisco and throughout the Bay Area, we know Sundowner's Syndrome is one of the most difficult forms of this disease to experience.
If you aren't familiar with Sundowner's Syndrome, it is often characterized by certain symptoms at the times of the day between daylight and dark, such as at dusk or just before sunrise. Many Alzheimer's patients may become restless, agitated, depressed, fearful, or even paranoid during this time of the day. Stubbornness, a tendency to wander, and even crying or violence are other symptoms.
The cause of Sundowner's Syndrome isn't known, although many physicians believe there is a correlation between the sensory stimulation patients experience during the daylight hours combined with the hormone changes that often occur at night. Another possible reason for this disease is the fear and uncertainty patients face when it's dark and they can't see as well.
What can you do as a caregiver to help manage the condition?
Let as much light in as possible. It is well-known that those who suffer from depression often benefit from light; the same is true of those with Sundowner's Syndrome. Turn lamps and overhead lights on throughout the house, and when it's time to turn in for the night, leave on a night light or a bathroom light.
Keep the noise to a minimum. Loud noises can be disturbing, frightening, or even stimulating for those with this condition. Turn the television or music down low.
Keep an eye on diet and nutrition. It's important to keep sugar and caffeine to a minimum so your loved one doesn't become even more stimulated, especially later in the day. Consider foods that are "brain healthy," such as salmon, tuna, poultry, olive oil, berries, brown rice and other whole grains, nuts, green leafy vegetables, beans, and others believed to reduce the decline in brain health.
Establish a routine. Daily routines help keep anxiety to a minimum; important for those with Alzheimer's. Activities that are more stimulating should be scheduled during morning hours or early afternoon.
Caring for a loved one with any type of Alzheimer's can be challenging. At Care Indeed, we provide a wide array of in-home care services including Alzheimer's and dementia care for those throughout the Bay Area.
Home care is derived from the belief that older adults should be able to age at home with the level of care they need to be safe and comfortable.