Now that Daylight Saving Time has ended, it can be especially tough on individuals who suffer from the condition known as sundowner’s syndrome says author Rick Phelps who is afflicted with the condition. He explains that when we lose so much daylight and are faced with the typically dreary, dark cloudy days of winter, those with sundowner’s can get further confused.
The Mayo Clinic describes sundowner’s syndrome as “a state of confusion at the end of the day and into the night.” They explain that it is not an actual disease but rather a symptom of Alzheimer's and typically peaks in the middle stage of the disease.
In fact the Alzheimer’s Association says that, “As many as 20 percent of persons with Alzheimer's will experience increased confusion, anxiety and agitation beginning late in the day. Others may experience changes in their sleep schedule and restlessness during the night.” Researchers do not understand the exact cause of sundowning but it appears to be triggered by a number of factors including fatigue or an overreaction to the day’s sensory stimulation. The inability to see well in the dark or hormonal imbalances that occur at night could be the cause of some of the anxiety people experience.
Furthermore, since many people with the syndrome do not get a good night’s sleep that can trigger behavioral problems. In addition to anxiety and confusion, the condition can also result in aggression, anger, depression, pacing, fear, restlessness, hallucinations, paranoia, wandering and violence.
Experts offer some tips to better cope with sundowner’s syndrome such as keeping your home well-lit during the evening hours and following a strict schedule for meals and bedtimes. They recommend that activities be scheduled in the morning or early afternoon to give the person plenty of time to unwind before evening. Sleep disturbances should be discussed with the person’s health care provider. We encourage you to read Rick Phelps full article on sundowning that is published in the MorningStar at Bear Creek’s November In Touch newsletter.
This post is for information purposes only and not a substitute for seeking medical advice from your health care provider.
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