Review: Sundown Syndrome

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Caring for Aging Parents, Author: Edie Dykeman; Kindle Edition

Introduction

Are you getting more forgetful? We all forget things as we get older. Dementia is a loss of mental skills that affects your daily life. It can cause problems with your memory and how well you can think and plan. Usually dementia gets worse over time. How long this takes is different for each person. Some people stay the same for years. Others lose skills quickly.

People are living to be older than ever. If you are a caregiver of an older person you may notice they exhibit changes in behavior which correspond to the evening time. They may become more agitated or restless. They also may be more forgetful. It’s only been in the past 10 years or so that this condition was given a formal title: Sundown Syndrome. Sometimes you’ll hear the term “sundowner” used in reference to a senior exhibiting the condition.

The author of Sundown Syndrome, Edie Dykeman, writes from personal experience as a family caregiver to her father who suffered from the condition. She began chronically her experience with her father, the medical community and other support systems. As her website grew, she discovered more and more people were seeking guidance regarding this condition. Dykeman speaks from very close experience as she is a caregiver who lives with her father who also happens to be blind.

Dementia and Sundowners

Do you have a parent diagnosed as having dementia? This is a blanket term for illnesses affecting memory. While cancer is the #1 health concern among adults, dementia and particularly the category called Alzheimer’s, is the second leading worry.

Men and women can suffer from any of the various forms of dementia occurring as early as the mid-sixties. Sundowning happens to nearly 20% of people who have Alzheimer’s disease or other kinds of dementia.

People who sundown may become more:

  • Forgetful
  • Confused
  • Delirious
  • Agitated
  • Anxious
  • Restless

What You Should Know

If you notice your aging parent or family member pacing the floor, yelling, wandering or even physically fighting with you, there’s a good chance your loved one is sundowning. The author points out that because sundowners can be combative; caregivers are placed in the difficult position of having to corral the elderly person.

In fact, a caregiver may actually fear for her own safety when their sundowner becomes combative. According to Dykeman, “Caring for them with love, patience, and kindness while handling the brunt of the agitation and confusion they may experience is the best a caregiver can do for them during this season of their lives.”

While certain medical tests can draw out evidence leading to a diagnosis of some level of dementia, there isn’t a test to prove someone is experiencing Sundown Syndrome. It is a symptom of dementia and not a disease. The best thing is to discuss the behavior with the patient’s physician who may recommend some level of medication to treat the dementia, but there isn’t any medical solution for the syndrome.

What May Help

Dykeman offers tips for changing certain things in the living area to help prevent the sundown symptoms and aggravations. Many believe the condition is aggravated by changes to the patient’s Circadian Rhythm. This is an internal timing system which triggers innate behavioral patterns to natural rhythms which coincide with sunlight, day and night, tides and the seasons.

Sundown Syndrom

When that natural pattern is disrupted by noise, light or sleeplessness, this may provoke the behavior associated with Sundown Syndrome. The author makes several practical suggestions that caregivers can try to help prevent sundowner symptoms.

You can discover these solutions easily and affordably as in this is a Kindle Book. It’s an easy read which benefits anyone who is already dealing with an aging loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s.

The book is void of clinical verbiage and the author shares from experience what to expect from Sundown Syndrome and how caregivers and family members can help their loved one while coping with the challenges they face.

She also invites you to keep up on advancements in dementia treatments as well as tips for dealing with sundowners. Visit and join in the discussion at her Sundowner blog at http://www.eldercarecafe.net or her personal blog at www.ediedykeman.com.

 

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