As a caregiver of an Alzheimer’s patient, you see the mood shifts change almost daily. Some good days, others bad. But when the sun goes down each evening, it also changes the mood for many of those with the disease.
By day, Alice is happy and carefree, despite having Alzheimer’s disease. But as the sun goes down, her world changes.
George, wife has Alzheimer’s disease, “She doesn’t know where her home is.”
It’s a disorder called Sundowning Syndrome and affects nearly all Alzheimer’s patients as their disease advances.
Charles, is a neurologist, says. “As the afternoon progresses, Alzheimer’s patients become confused, irritable and more incoherent.”
Dr. says people with memory problems look to their environment for clues. Family pictures and familiar faces let them know they’re home.
“As the lights go down we have less environmental cues to tell us where we are, what time it is, and then their behavior becomes more disoriented.”
With more than four million people with Alzheimer’s, here’s how families can help their loved ones:
Remind them they’re at home,
Keep rooms well-lit, even at night, and
Have normal routines.
George, “We go to bed at seven, we go to bed at eight, when I can’t calm her down I say, ‘Let’s just go to bed.'”
And George tries to make sure Alyce feels at home in her home of 42 years.
Doctors don’t fully understand why Sundowning Syndrome occurs and have no real treatment for it. Their best advice is to make the person with Alzheimer’s feel as safe and secure as possible.