If you live with an elderly person who has Alzheimer’s disease, you will notice a change in behavior in the late afternoon or early evening. This condition is called sundown syndrome or sundowning syndrome, which means late-night syndrome. Although it cannot be completely stopped, this syndrome can be controlled.
One in five people with Alzheimer’s or dementia can develop this syndrome, but it can also occur in elderly people who do not have Alzheimer’s or dementia. The cause of this syndrome has not been determined, but some scientists argue that this change is influenced by the ability of the brain and the body’s biological clock in the elderly who are already disturbed.
Some of the symptoms that appear in this syndrome or Sundowners are mood swings to be restless, annoyed, confused, feeling suspicious of something, or screaming and hallucinating. The triggers for this condition usually occur when the area around the patient is darker or dimmer, feels tired or frustrated, bored, has sleep disturbances, is hungry or thirsty, and has difficulty separating dreams from reality (disorientation) and feels dazed.
How do you deal with the elderly with sundowning syndrome?
When this condition occurs, you must remain calm, do not show your anxiety which can worsen the condition. Then, try to calm him down with the following:
• Approach the patient and ask what is needed
• Remind the patient that it is late and better to rest
• Reassure the patient that all is well
• Stay with the patient, don’t leave it alone
What should be done to treat the elderly with sundowning syndrome?
The symptoms of sundowning syndrome can be very severe but will improve in the morning. However, this condition can disturb other people who have to rest and of course disturb the quality of sleep for the elderly themselves. Here are some tips for dealing with and overcoming the elderly with sundowning syndrome, such as:
1. Understand the triggers
Every elderly with sundowning has a different trigger. For that, start paying attention and supervising his activities precisely when it is late in the afternoon.
2. Organize activities and habits
make a schedule of activities for the patient, so that the routine continues to run normally and the patient does not feel confused or feel threatened by things he cannot predict.
3. Create a comfortable atmosphere
Because the syndrome occurs when the sun begins to set, you can provide a comfortable atmosphere in his bedroom by closing the curtains and not allowing the surrounding area to be very dark. Prepare his favorite blanket and put a family photo in his room, so that patients do not feel alone. Maybe you can read a story, open small talk, or turn on some calming music so the patient can sleep well later.