Sundowners’ syndrome is a disease known in relation with Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Most people are familiar with Alzheimer’s disease as a point in an elderly persons life where they become disoriented or confused and often begin to lose their memories. Sundowners syndrome is related to Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia but was pinpointed to its own syndrome based on the time of day the confusion and disorientation was occurring. So how can you tell the difference between normal disorientation or confusion compared to that of Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia?
Symptoms of Sundowners Syndrome include increased confusion as natural light diminishes and shadows begin to appear, mental and physical fatigue at sunset, restlessness while trying to sleep, and mood swings. It is not uncommon for sufferers of Sundowners Syndrome to yell at their primary caregivers.
Alzheimer’s is considered to happen due to a disruption in the suprachiasmatic nucleus, though there is no proven cause of Sundowners disease, scientist believe it is a disruption in the circadian rhythm. It is difficult to diagnose Sundowners Syndrome because it often occurs during the mid stages of Alzheimer’s disease; the only way to determine if a patient actually has this is through an autopsy. By the time someone dies from Alzheimer’s disease, they have already past the stage of Sundowners syndrome.
There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease or any of the syndromes attached to the disease itself. However, there are always suggestions of making the most out of a situation. If you are dealing with someone with Sundowners disease, there a precautions you can take to make care giving a little easier.
Daily routines are important to help avoid confusion, so by keeping someone with Sundowners syndrome on a daily routine and a consistent sleep schedule, it will help control some of the confusion. To prepare for a better routine for bedtime, if the patients schedule allows incorporate an activity that will lead to an early bedtime.
Alzheimer’s Disease and all the syndromes that come with it including Sundowners disease can be difficult for everyone. It is hard to be confused and it is difficult to see the ones we love go through something like this, the best we can do is be patient, educate ourselves on the matter, and try to make patients as comfortable as possible. Sundowners syndrome can not be cured, but it can be controlled to an extent.
For more information, feel free to visit the resources below
Womens Magazine on the Syndrome