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What is Sundowning and How Can I Help Reduce the Effects on Mom?


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Woman suffering from Alzheimer's disease

Tips for Caregivers from the Team at Home Instead Waterloo

Have you noticed that Mom gets a little more confused in the evenings? Maybe Dad shows signs of anxiety or aggression as the sun recedes. If you notice any of these signs, your parent may be suffering from a symptom of Alzheimer’s disease called "sundowning" or "late-day confusion." The terms refer to the problems some Alzheimer’s and dementia patients have with sleeping or behavioural issues. The cause behind the symptoms is unknown, but as there are changes in memory and behaviour as the disease progresses, there are often disturbances in sleep patterns.

Help Mom stay in her home for as long as possible when you enlist the services of a professional caregiver from Home Instead Senior Care, Waterloo. We assist families in the midst of caring for dementia patients with a wide range of help, including respite care for much-needed breaks. Let us help you and your loved one through this sometimes rough season of life.

Possible Factors that May Make Mom’s Sundowning Worse

Scientists cannot explain why sundowning occurs. They can narrow down some factors that may contribute to your mother’s symptoms. They include:

  • Mental and physical end-of-day exhaustion
  • Disruption of her internal clock that mixes up day and night
  • Reduction in light with an increase in shadows
  • Noticing nonverbalized frustration from a caregiver with her
  • Problems separating dreams from reality
  • Getting too much sleep

5 Tips for Caregivers to Reduce the Effects of Sundowning

You can help your loved one deal with the symptoms of late-day confusion or sundowning when you utilize these steps:

  • Maintain a regular schedule. Consistent routines help Mom or Dad achieve better sleep at night. It also helps them feel more calm and secure. Without daily routines, Mom may feel more stress, confusion, or anger. Encourage her to go to bed and get up at the same time every day.
  • Turn on more lights during the evening hours. Low light adds shadows that can confuse and agitate Dad. Use nightlights along with lamps to reduce the number of shadows.
  • Minimize stimulants before bed. Too much caffeine, smoking, and television all stimulate the brain, which results in Dad struggling to fall asleep later. Discourage him from watching TV before bed and offer a warm, decaffeinated drink.
  • Increase their daytime activities. Find ways to challenge Mom with activities during the day like doctor appointments, short trips, bathing, and regular daily exercise. Try to have these completed at least four hours before bedtime.
  • Create a safe and comfortable bedroom. If it is too hot or cold, Dad may not be able to sleep well. Try to get the right temperature in the room, add a nightlight, and install door sensors. He can sleep better, and you will be alerted if he wanders.

Get Support for Mom and Yourself from Home Instead Senior Care

Taking care of an aging parent is not easy. When they have symptoms of sundowning, things can get tougher. Enlist the help of a qualified personal support worker from Home Instead Senior Care, Waterloo and gain your peace of mind back. We serve families across the Waterloo area with personalized services and additional resources so that you can give your senior loved one the best care possible.

Call us at (519) 571-1665 to schedule a no-obligation in-home consultation. Learn more about the compassionate, quality home care for seniors we deliver each day to families in the Kitchener, Waterloo, Breslau, Conestogo, Elmira, St Jacobs, and surrounding areas.

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