Caring For People Having Sundown Syndrome: Dementia Symptoms That Vary During The Day

2013-12-04 | |
Last updated: 2013-12-04

Managing Behaviour By Redirecting Attention

During the later hours of the day, a person with sundowning syndrome may become more fixated on certain thoughts or behaviors than other times, often with the end result being increased agitation, confusion and the like. It is vital to get the person “out of their head” in order to minimize problem. Giving the patient a repetitive task can help redirect their focus. It can be anything from stacking papers to winding a ball of yarn. If their focus is on activities that they may have been doing at this time of day at some other point in their life, having the person do something that mimics that activity can be an important way to manage behaviour.

An example for some older women is getting dinner ready for their child or husband when they come home from school or work. Since nobody really is coming, we could then tell her that the person coming will be working late and that we should eat without them. It can be tempting to fight their reality and bring them into our own, but this is usually a losing battle. Experimenting with different activities can allow the caregiver to see what a person with dementia responds to best.

Managing Activities During Daylight Hours Can Affect Evening Dementia

What the caregiver and their loved one do during the day can affect the severity of sundowning. First and foremost, establishing a daily routine can be very helpful. Dementia patients respond well to routine and knowing what to expect. Daytime napping is okay, but avoid letting the person with dementia sleep for hours on end is not a good idea. Furthermore, limit napping to the couch, recliner or anywhere other than the bed so the person still has a reason to go to bed. Having the larger meals in the morning and afternoon, keeping dinner light can avoid problems that might prevent sleep. The caregiver’s loved one will be calmer during the day so take advantage of that by scheduling challenging activities, such as bathing, during this time.

Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who blogs about a variety of issues related to caregiving for dementia patients; she recommends visiting www.liftcaregiving.com for helpful information for caregivers.

Related Links

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3246134/
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/sundowning/HQ01463
http://www.alz.org/national/documents/topicsheet_sundowning.pdf

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Category: Disease Information, Symptom Information

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