A Light in the Dark: Dealing with Alzheimers

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If you need to make changes, try to adjust their routine gradually and as little as possible. Your loved one might experience sundowning as the result of changes in their circadian rhythms — their sleep-wake cycles. Adjusting the light in their home might help reduce their symptoms.

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According to a research review published in Psychiatric Investigation , some studies suggest light therapy can reduce agitation and confusion in people with dementia. Consider placing a full-spectrum fluorescent light about one meter away from your loved one for a couple of hours each morning.

Many people who experience sundowning syndrome have trouble sleeping at night. In turn, fatigue is a common trigger of sundowning.

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This can create a vicious cycle. Too much daytime dozing and inactivity can make it harder for your loved one to fall asleep at bedtime. For example, go for a walk in the park together or clear some space to dance. This might help improve their sleep quality and reduce their sundowning symptoms.

What I Wish I Knew Before My Mother’s Alzheimer’s Death

It can also help them enjoy better physical health. Large meals can increase their agitation and may keep them up at night, especially if they consume caffeine or alcohol. Encourage your loved one to avoid those substances or enjoy them at lunch rather than dinner. Limiting their evening food intake to a hearty snack or light meal might help them feel more comfortable and rest easier at night. Try to help your loved one stay calm in the evening hours.

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Frustration and stress can add to their confusion and irritability. If they have mid-stage or advanced dementia, watching television or reading a book might be too difficult for them. Instead, consider playing soft music to create a calm and quiet environment. It might be a nice time for them to snuggle with a beloved cat or other pet. Think back to the last time you were sick. Chances are you wanted to be surrounded by comforting thoughts, things, and people.

For someone with dementia, the world can become a scary place. Comfort and familiarity can help them cope with this difficult time in life. If they move into a hospital or assisted living facility, furnish the space around them with cherished items.


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For example, bring their favorite blanket or family photos to the new facility. Nighttime restlessness doesn't last forever. It typically peaks in the middle stages of Alzheimer's, and then diminishes as the disease progresses. Some studies indicate as many as 20 percent of persons with Alzheimer's will experience increased confusion, anxiety and agitation beginning late in the day. Others may experience changes in their sleep schedule and restlessness during the night. This disruption in the body's sleep-wake cycle can lead to more behavioral problems.

Talk to a doctor about sleep issues Discuss sleep disturbances with the doctor to help identify causes and possible solutions. Physical ailments, such as urinary tract infections or incontinence problems, restless leg syndrome or sleep apnea an abnormal breathing pattern in which people briefly stop breathing many times a night can cause or worsen sleep problems. For sleep issues due primarily to Alzheimer's disease, most experts encourage the use of non-drug measures, rather than medication.

App diagnoses children's illnesses, based on their cough. Obesity, hypertension and other metabolic disorders linked to irregular sleep patterns.

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