Sundowners syndrome, also known as sundowning, is a state where individuals experience a set of symptoms during specific late-day periods. This can lead to issues like anxiety, confusion, ignoring directions, wandering, aggression, or even pacing.
There are many factors that contribute to this like a disruption of a person’s circadian rhythm, having difficulties distinguishing between dreams and reality or even just having more shadows and low lighting in your home. It is important to note that sundowning isn’t a disease in itself but has been associated with dementia and conditions like Alzheimer’s disease. The cause of the syndrome has not been established yet but there are certain things and changes you can make to your home ot make it easier for your loved ones.
Having a scent that your loved one is familiar with can be helpful, regardless of whether it is a familiar cologne, perfume or even just their favorite candle. If there are no scents that they prefer, using oils like lavender, chamomile or bergamot can be calming. Especially when incorporated with lotion of body oil, they can be applied to your loved ones wrist, temple, or even in a light-pressure massage.
Consider Melatonin Supplements
Melatonin is a common hormone that is used as a remedy for jet lag. In fact, it is readily available over the counter at most drug stores. However, it is important to take a moderate dose at around 0.3 to 1.0 mg at an earlier time during the night, preferably two hours before your bed time. If the dosages that are available to you are higher, it is important to cut it to lower the amount you are taking.
While on the topic of supplements, it is important to avoid over the counter drugs that like nighttime or antihistamine medications as drugs like NyQuil, Benadrl or even Tylenol PM can possibly make the effects worse over a long time. If you or your loved one is struggling to find something to cope with the effects of sundowning, the best way to move forward is to consult your healthcare provider for their recommendation on what treatment plan would be best for you.
Create a Conducive Environment for Sleep
Whether you are coping with Sundowners syndrome or not, it is good to practice good sleep hygiene in order to encourage better sleep. This involves setting the thermostat below 70 degrees and dimming any bright lights that can affect the body’s response to night time. If possible, try to avoid looking at bright screens up to 30 minutes before sleeping.
Dealing with sundowning can put the entire family on edge, for both the person coping with the symptoms as well as the others in the household. It is important that both of you stay calm and let them know that everything is alright. Provide verbal reassurance and hugs, checking if they feel any pain or require anything else.
Get the Support You Need at Discovery Commons Cypress Point
Supporting a loved one who is sundowning or coping with advanced symptoms of dementia can be really hard on caregivers, especially if they do not have training to cope with the medical needs. Our team offers different senior living options with round-the-clock care so that you or your loved one gets the assistance that is needed. For more information on our senior living community and the programs that we offer, contact us today.