Sundown syndrome is a symptom that affects individuals suffering from various forms of dementia, including Alzheimer's disease. It can be especially frustrating for families trying to care for the individual in their home, because it causes the patient to suffer from a deeper sense of confusion in the evening hours. While someone with dementia may seem to be doing well in the morning and early afternoon, their confusion often gets worse as the day wears on. While this can't be prevented, there are things others can do to minimize the severity of sundown syndrome. Making a few adjustments to the individual's daily routine can help them feel less frustrated and confused as the evening hours approach.
Avoid Triggers For Restless Sleep
Because many individuals don't recognize the important role sleep plays in their lives, it may be difficult to understand how it plays a major role in sundown syndrome. Patients with dementia often have a difficult time falling asleep or getting quality sleep throughout the night. As a result, the individual will awaken feeling fatigued and may be lacking energy. Just as this would affect concentration and memory in a healthy individual, it increases the confusion that someone with dementia experiences. This confusion worsens as the evening approaches, triggering the symptom of sundown syndrome. The best way to avoid triggers for restless sleep is to ensure the patient remains active during the day. It may be wise to schedule activities, such as walks in the early afternoons, so the patient can expend energy. This will help them feel tired and ready for sleep, while also giving them the daily physical activity they require. If caregivers can select physical activities the patient enjoys and ones not too strenuous for them, it will be easier to keep them interested.
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