Alzheimer's Aid Society|
Supporting the caregiver. Remembering the cared for.
In this issue:
- Info for Caregivers: Sundowning
- Looking for Volunteers
- Upcoming Events
- What is "Happenings!"
Info for Caregivers: Sundowning
About 20% of people with Alzheimer’s also experience “sundowning”. Sundowning refers to the increased agitation, confusion and hyperactivity in dementia patients that begins in the late afternoon and builds throughout the evening. During the wintertime, when the days are shorter and the weather gloomy, sundowning can be exacerbated.
We really do not know what causes sundowning – maybe dementia damages the body's internal clock, causing a disruption of sleep-wake cycles. Sundowning is also very difficult for the caregiver. As you are winding down, your loved one is winding up and becoming more agitated. Both of you have difficulty getting the rest you need. Ask for help if you need it!
If you suspect your loved one is experiencing sundowning, use a journal to help identify their triggers. Track their daily activities, environments, and behaviors. Look for patterns to learn which activities or environments seem to make their symptoms worse. Then, it will be easier to avoid situations that promote agitation and confusion.
Here are some suggestions may reduce sundowning and the behaviors that come with it:
If these suggestions do not reduce the sundowning symptoms, ask your doctor what other things he/she would suggest.
- Stick to a regular routine. Plan activities or outings in the morning. Do only simple, calming activities in the afternoon.
- Keep individuals active during the day. Too much daytime dozing and inactivity can make it harder for your loved one to fall asleep at bedtime. Fatigue is a common trigger of sundowning.
- Utilize bright light therapy. Increase indoor lighting before dusk. Some research suggests light therapy may reset the body's circadian rhythm, or inner biological clock. Keeping the lights on in your home may also reduce your loved one’s confusion about where they are or fear from shadows and dark spaces.
- Their agitation may come from an unresolved physical need such as hunger, thirst, pain or fear. Offer a snack or try to determine their need.
- Adjust their eating patterns. Large meals can increase their agitation and may keep them up at night, especially if they consume caffeine or alcohol. Have lunch be your largest meal of the day while dinner is a hearty snack or light meal.
- Remove excess stimuli and clutter. 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. Do they have a favorite blanket or pillow to cuddle with?
Looking for Volunteers
The motto of the Alzheimer’s Aid Society is “Supporting the caregiver. Remembering the cared for.” Many times, we do this through one-on-one contact with those who need us. To achieve our mission we need volunteers who have walked in the caregiver’s shoes, who can answer phones and mail in the office, or who can gently direct activities for the cared for. Do you have the "right stuff"? Here's two of the "jobs" we have open.
Are you ready to be part of our team? Call Sheryl Ashby at (916) 483-2002 or (800) 540-3340 to volunteer today!!
- Event Representative: The Alzheimer’s Aid Society frequently participated in health fairs and other events hosted by other organizations related to elderly and medical services. We are looking for individuals who can professionally represent the Society, provide information, and respond to questions about our services. This position does require some physical tasks to set-up tables and chairs and moving boxes of printed materials. Some events may take place in the late afternoon/early evening.
- Library Coordinator: Do you love to organize? We have a lending library in our office which needs the gentle touch of someone who loves to organize. We would like someone who can establish a simple system for checking out books and be able to follow-up with borrowers for overdue books. The Library Coordinator will set their own hours within normal office hours.
What is "Happenings!"
- February 16 at 2:00 p.m. - Alzheimer's Café in Woodland at St. John's Retirement Village, 135 Woodland Avenue, Woodland. Call (530) 662-1290 to confirm.
- February 17 at 10:30 a.m. - Alzheimer's Café in the Sacramento Rosemont area at Golden Pond Senior Living, 3415 Mayhew Road, Sacramento.
"Happenings!" is the our monthly e-mail newsletter for the Alzheimer's Aid Society. We send it at the beginning of the month so you can stay up-to-date on events and news in northern California. We will also include tips for caregivers and highlight new scientific research.
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