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7 Tips for Coping with Sundowner’s Syndrome

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Caring for a loved one with sundowner’s syndrome can be incredibly challenging. The dramatic mood and behavior changes that accompany this condition are difficult to manage, leaving both the individual affected and their caregivers drained of energy. 

These 7 tips for coping with sundowner’s syndrome include:

  1. Recognize triggers for sundowning
  2. Create daily structure for those with sundowning syndrome
  3. Use the benefits of nature for helping those with sundowning syndrome
  4. Limit late afternoon and evening stimulation
  5. Maintain your calm as a caregiver
  6. Get adequate sleep for those with sundowner’s syndrome
  7. Seek professional aid

It is possible, however, to better cope with this disorder by utilizing sensible strategies designed to reduce stress levels and create an environment more conducive to successful caregiving. We will provide seven tips for managing sundowner’s syndrome in order to help make life easier for those living with or caring for someone who suffers from it.

  1. Recognize Triggers for Sundowning

Identifying triggers for sundowning in dementia patients is crucial for providing a comfortable environment. Activities and environments such as fatigue, loud noises, discomfort, activities that can wear one down, and changes in environment or caregivers can trigger sundowning episodes. 

To better understand and manage these triggers, consider using a journal to track what activities, people, and environments seem to worsen symptoms. By doing so, you can avoid situations that promote agitation and confusion, ensuring a more peaceful experience for your loved one.

  1. Create Daily Structure for Those with Sundowning Syndrome

Creating structure in the day can have numerous benefits for seniors, particularly those with dementia. Daily routines provide a sense of stability and security, minimizing surprises and reducing anxiety and confusion. 

Planning meals at regular times throughout the day, also provides structure and allows for more social interaction during mealtimes. Eating nutritiously will help your loved one receive all essential vitamins and minerals, offering further protection against sundowning outbursts.

By offering structured and meaningful activities earlier in the day, such as physical exercise and movement, you can help your loved one maintain a sense of purpose and engagement. This can contribute to their overall well-being and enhance their quality of life.

  1. Use the Benefits of Nature for Helping Those with Sundowning Syndrome

Get outside and reap the rewards of nature by embarking on a leisurely stroll. Not only will you bask in the invigorating sunlight and breathe in the rejuvenating fresh air, but venturing outdoors can also exert a positive influence on the internal body clock, scientifically referred to as the circadian rhythm, especially for individuals with sundowner’s syndrome. Moreover, immersing yourself in the great outdoors can serve as a conduit to release pent-up energy, fostering a profound sense of tranquility and well-being. So, slip on your most comfortable walking shoes and embrace the revitalizing prowess of nature’s embrace.

According to a systematic review and meta-analysis conducted on the subject, nature walks have been found to effectively improve mental health, positively impacting depression and anxiety levels. This further reinforces the notion that spending time amidst nature’s wonders can offer immense therapeutic benefits. 

Remember, exposure to nature has been linked to a multitude of advantages, including:

  • Improved attention
  • Reduced stress levels
  • Enhanced mood
  • Diminished risk of various health ailments. 

So, seize the opportunity to nurture your well-being by embracing the great outdoors and savoring the myriad blessings it bestows upon us.

  1. Limit Late Afternoon & Evening Stimulation

In order to manage sundowner’s syndrome, it is important to limit stimulation during the late afternoon and early evening. This can be achieved by implementing a few simple strategies. Lowering the lights in the environment creates a calming atmosphere, while limiting caffeine intake can help prevent any potential restlessness. 

Closing curtains or blinds can minimize external distractions, and reducing noise levels can contribute to a more peaceful setting. Additionally, decluttering the space can create a sense of order and tranquility.

By implementing these practices, you can provide a supportive and calming atmosphere for individuals with sundowner’s syndrome, helping to alleviate restlessness and promote a sense of peace.

  1. Maintain Your Calm as a Caregiver

It’s essential to be mindful of your own behavior as a caregiver. We understand that you may sometimes feel tired, frustrated, or short-fused, but it’s important to remember that these emotions can potentially trigger behavioral responses in the person with memory loss. By being aware of your own demeanor and maintaining a composed and empathetic approach, you can create a more positive and comforting environment for your loved one.

Taking these measures to be gentle and understanding can help build trust and foster a stronger connection with your loved one, ultimately enhancing their well-being.

  1. Get Adequate Sleep for Those with Sundowner’s Syndrome

Getting adequate sleep is crucial for individuals with Sundowner’s syndrome. Sleep disturbances and disruptions in the sleep-wake cycle are common symptoms of this condition, which can lead to increased confusion, anxiety, agitation, hallucinations, and paranoia during the late afternoon and evening.

Sleep plays a vital role in restoring and rejuvenating the body and mind, and it is essential for maintaining overall well-being. For individuals with Sundowner’s syndrome, a lack of quality sleep can further exacerbate their symptoms and make it more challenging to manage their condition effectively.

Research has shown that disruptions in the circadian rhythm can significantly impact individuals with Sundowner’s syndrome. This disruption can lead to increased anxiety, agitation, and behavioral changes during the evening hours.

Creating a conducive sleep environment and implementing sleep hygiene practices can help improve sleep quality for individuals with Sundowner’s syndrome.

  1. Seek Professional Aid

If you have concerns, it’s crucial to communicate with your loved one’s doctor. They can develop effective strategies to help manage the symptoms and provide guidance on ways to support you during this challenging time.

As a caregiver, it’s vital that you prioritize self-care. Take care of yourself by engaging in regular exercise, maintaining a healthy diet, and ensuring you get enough rest. Seek support from family members and friends who can provide emotional assistance. 

Additionally, consider discussing respite care or support services with your doctor. These options can give you a necessary break from your caregiving responsibilities, allowing you to recharge and rejuvenate.

Remember, taking care of yourself is not selfish but essential for providing the care for your loved one.

Group of seniors sitting around a table drinking coffee and playing cards.

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At Saranac Village at Will Rogers, we are ready to provide any assistance we can. If you are interested in respite care, we can help you with that. Contact us and book an appointment for a tour today!

Written by saranac

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