5 Tips for Caring for a Loved One with Sundowning Syndrome

Sundowning Syndrome can be a difficult thing to endure as a caregiver when you Mom or Dad has dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease. As a family caregiver, you may notice that your parent begins to experience more bouts of agitation, anger, restlessness, or confusion during the evening time as the sun goes down. This is what’s referred to as Sundowning Syndrome, and is a very common occurrence among patients. In fact, according to the Alzheimer Society of Canada, up to 66% of people living with dementia can experience this.

There can be other reasons behind these behavioural occurrences, so if Mom or Dad does experience these emotions often during the evening, talk to their health care practitioner.

But to help you deal with these emotional waves, here are five tips to help you care for a loved one with Sundowning Syndrome.

Observe and Record the Behaviour

Just because this is a common occurrence among patients, doesn’t mean it’s all the same. Any peculiar behaviour displayed by your loved one should be communicated to your parent’s health care practitioner. It’s also a good idea to observe and take notes of the certain nuances of their actions. Subtle patterns can often display other culprits at play, such as diet or even side effects from medication. This can also help in dealing with the behaviour if you know what to expect.

Find Ways to Cope with your Feelings and Remain Calm

When Mom or Dad has Alzheimer’s, it places additional stress on you as the caregiver. And as you watch your loved one slip into a chaotic and confusing state of mind during those Sundowning periods, it can weigh heavily on your own wellbeing. But it’s important to remain calm and treat the person with respect and kindness. To do this, you may need to prepare yourself with some coping mechanisms.

You need to explore different ways that will help you cope during those times. Exercising and meditation are healthy, constructive approaches. It’s also important to maintain a healthy sleep pattern and diet to keep you in the best state possible.

Share your Caregiving Duties

You can also share your caregiving duties. Give yourself a break and hand off your duties to another family member or hire a respite caregiver to assist you and provide that reprieve you need during the evening. 

Find Support Through Community Groups

One of the most important ways that you can help both yourself and your loved one is by getting the support you need. That means reaching out for help through your local community groups where you can talk to others who are experiencing what you are going through. You can learn a great deal about other effective ways to cope with what you are going through.

Educate Yourself on this Condition

Learn all that you can about Sundowning Syndrome. When you understand more about a particular condition or pattern, you can begin to address it and find ways to combat it much more effectively.

If you think that your loved one is suffering with Sundowning Syndrome, talk to their doctor about it. And try exploring each of these options to help both you and your loved one get through those difficult and chaotic moments.

-      Stephen Bleeker