Dementia sundowning symptoms are one of the biggest problems faced by aging family members with dementia or Alzheimer’s, which results in agitation and confusion at night when it’s time to go to bed. Fortunately, there are ways you can help your loved one deal with these nighttime issues, some of which you might not have even thought of before! Read on to learn more about these common dementia sundowning symptoms and how you can help reduce them.
Observe and Track Their Behavior Patterns
Are they more likely to experience distress and agitation in particular places or times of the day? You may find that your loved one becomes anxious when it’s time for them to return home from somewhere. Perhaps they start to worry that you are being tricked or have forgotten about them. Or maybe they become scared if you seem preoccupied with something else. Once you know what causes distress, it’s easier to develop a plan of action. Do they always want things done a certain way? Maybe there is a routine associated with where they need to be or who will be there at a specific time (such as church services). It can help to talk through some alternatives, so everyone feels comfortable. Similarly, note any external factors (like noise levels or lighting) that could affect your loved one’s mood at different times of the day. You may find that some actions help ease your loved one’s anxiety while others don’t seem to do much good at all.
Ensure Basic Needs Are Met
Ensure that your loved one’s basic needs are taken care of; make sure they are fed, well-rested and clean. The more you can ensure they feel comfortable and safe, the less likely they will exhibit any sundowning behaviour.
Encourage Your Loved One to Exercise
It is a well-known fact that getting up and active is vital to help with physical and mental health. The same goes for individuals suffering from dementia as routine exercises for aging parents can help in reducing sundowning symptoms, such as confusion and anxiety. Physical activity will also lower stress levels, which are often high for both you and your loved one at home when coping with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. If possible, try to get your loved one moving even if it is something as simple as going for a walk around their neighborhood.
Minimize Distractions, Noise and Shadows
Another best way to reduce dementia sundowning symptoms is to minimize noise, distractions, and shadows in your loved one’s environment. Talk softly or use white noise machines if outside noises are causing agitation.
Create a Relaxing Environment
Creating a calm and relaxing environment can help reduce sundown syndrome symptoms. You should provide reassurance, clear up any confusion, turn off lights and televisions and ensure everything in your loved one’s room is arranged, from pillows to books on nightstands to items on windowsills. Music can also be soothing; classical music is generally recommended over other genres, which may prove too stimulating for someone with dementia.