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Triggers for Sundowner’s Syndrome in Seniors

Some seniors with Alzheimer’s or dementia also experience Sundowner’s Syndrome, or the onset of negative feelings, like severe anxiety, sadness, and distress, in the hours right before or after bed. While the root of the syndrome is still unclear, there are certain factors that doctors and caregivers have noticed trigger sundowning symptoms in the elderly. Read to learn about four common triggers of Sundowner’s Syndrome presented by Home Care Assistance of Redondo Beach.

1. Dim Lighting
If your loved one has Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, he or she may have difficulty seeing in a dimly lit house. Without sufficient lighting, your loved one may have trouble locating things, navigating through the home, or may find familiar objects, people, and places threatening. To avoid this increased confusion and agitation, be sure to keep the house brightly lit until your loved one is about to go to sleep. As an added benefit, keeping the house well lit can also help prevent slips and falls.

2. Insomnia and Exhaustion
If your loved one has trouble sleeping, the resulting fatigue can aggravate other sundowning symptoms. Particularly if other family members go to sleep and your loved one is unable to settle down, he or she may become stressed or frustrated. A stimulating day can also lead to excess fatigue and napping, which in turn makes sleeping at night more difficult. Address your loved one’s insomnia by encouraging him or her to do some light exercise during the morning, and then to relax in the evening.

3. Overstimulation
Evening activities can be over-stimulating for some seniors. Depending on the household, there may be family members returning home, dinners being prepared, television noise, traffic, or loud neighbors. Help your loved one find a quiet place to escape and plan activities to keep him or her focused on something else. Mid-afternoon may be a good time for your loved one’s family or
live-in caregiver in Redondo Beach to go out for a calm activity, like a walk in a local park, to distract your loved one from the buzz at home.

4. Disorientation
If your loved one has experienced a loss, move, or another big change, the evening may trigger anxious thoughts or feelings. As evening is associated with some habitual behaviors, like going home, or putting a child to bed, your loved one might feel compelled to find his or her children or spouse so that they can “go home.” Simple, structured activities, like completing a puzzle, or watching a familiar movie, can distract your loved one and may help alleviate this sense of urgency.

While diminishing the triggers and symptoms of Sundowner’s can be a huge relief for many families, sometimes other day-to-day responsibilities can make providing your loved one with a high level of care challenging. If your family could use help caring for your loved one, turn to Home Care Assistance. Our Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers in Redondo Beach are highly trained to provide quality care services for your loved one. Learn more about our care services by contacting a Care Manager at (310) 504-0506 and scheduling a free, in-home consultation.