July 8th, 2011 - Sundowning, tips for caregivers

It is not uncommon for an individual with Alzheimer’s to appear more confused in the late afternoon. This is a typical Alzheimer’s symptom called “Sundown Syndrome”. This term describes the increasing confusion, agitation and aggressive behavior that begins in the late afternoon. Most Alzheimer’s experts agree that one of the contributing factors to sundowning is a shift in a patients biological clock. How can caregivers help alleviate the symptoms? The best defense is a good offensive – be prepared!

1. Keep the house well lit during the early evening. Avoid letting the shadows invade your home

2. The early evening is often the busiest time of the day. Family members are cooking, kids are doing homework and the telephone is ringing. If the traffic in your home is high during these hours, try and have your loved one in a quiet part of the house.

3. Routine, routine, routine – My mom loves her afternoon cup of tea and sweet treat. Having her tea and cake at that 5:00 hour daily seems to settle her when she begins to feel anxious. Find something familiar and comforting for your loved one and introduce it at the same time in the later afternoon. Keep the routine as familiar as possible.

Not everyone with Alzheimer’s sundowns and some patients sundown at 10:00am! Try some of these simple techniques as you ease into the late afternoon.