There’s still much that’s unknown about what causes dementia-related sundowning. For some reason, many seniors with dementia experience marked increases in their symptoms toward the end of the day. Your aging loved one may begin to experience more instances of paranoia or delusions in the evening hours. You may also notice your loved one beginning to pace, trying to wander, or even following you through the house as the symptoms worsen. The behaviors associated with sundowning are frustrating, but it helps to know they do eventually end and are manageable with proper care.
Reasons Sundowning Might Occur
There are several theories regarding why people with dementia experience sundowning. Some people believe dementia affects the parts of the brain that control the body’s circadian rhythms, which can lead to confusion for seniors as the sun goes down and the body doesn’t respond properly. It’s also believed that people with dementia experience more severe symptoms in the evening because they’re tired from the activities of the day, which could make it difficult to manage stressful events, and their way to respond to this stress is by engaging in challenging behaviors.
If your senior loved one experiences sundowning due to dementia, he or she may need a higher level of care than a family member can provide. Living with a serious health condition can make it challenging for seniors to age in place. However, they can maintain a higher quality of life with the help of professional live-in care. Green Valley seniors can benefit from assistance with meal prep, bathing, transportation to the doctor’s office, medication reminders, and much more.
Stages of Dementia When Sundowning Is Worse
Sundowning is rare in the early stages of dementia, and your loved one may simply experience evening agitation due to fatigue or other reasons. For some reason, sundowning tends to begin in the middle stages of dementia, and it tends to be worse right before the final stages. During this time, you need to be especially cautious with your loved one to protect him or her from the potential dangers sundowning poses. Agitation can be dangerous if your loved one becomes aggressive or tries to wander outside the home.
Sundowning can be one of the most challenging aspects of aging for elderly people with dementia. Seniors can face a variety of challenges as they age, many of which can be mitigated with the help of professional in-home caregivers who provide high-quality senior home care. Trust Home Care Assistance to help your elderly loved one age in place safely and comfortably.
Average Length of Time People Experience Symptoms
You can also rest assured that sundowning doesn’t last forever. Most seniors experience several hours of increased symptoms in the evening and then calm down. When your loved one’s behaviors are difficult to manage, try to remember they’re only temporary. In time, you may notice sundowning occurs at a specific time of day and ends in a familiar pattern. Watching the clock can remind you this moment will pass.
Ways to Prevent and Manage Difficult Behaviors
Over time, you may notice your loved one does better when he or she is well rested, fed, and able to enjoy soothing activities in the evening. You may want to try planning the more stressful parts of your loved one’s daily routine during the early morning and afternoon hours to avoid meltdowns over things such as washing his or her hair or doing exercises. Some caregivers also find that using more lights in the house during the evening prevents sundowning. If your loved one gets extremely agitated in the evenings, you may also need to get assistance from another caregiver. Hiring a caregiver allows you to take a break if you get overstressed, and your loved one may respond to someone new with more positive behavior.
It can be challenging for family caregivers to manage their loved ones’ physical and cognitive needs, and professional caregivers can be a valuable resource. Families looking for top-rated Green Valley home care service providers can reach out to Home Care Assistance. From respite care to specialized Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care, there are many ways we can make life easier for seniors and their loved ones. Trust Home Care Assistance to provide high-quality compassionate, professional home care for your loved one. Call one of our friendly Care Managers today at 520-625-2050.