The Are Alzheimer’s Patients Worse at Night?
Alzheimer’s patients find the transition from day to night very difficult. The condition is sometimes referred to as sundowning and it is marked by a regular change of behavior characterized by confusion, anxiety, and agitation.
The research on the issue is limited and doctors do not yet have a cause for the condition. As a caregiver or a loved one to an Alzheimer’s patient, all you can do is expect a change in behavior during the night and usually expect the patient to get worse.
The Sundowning Effect
There are many theories about the sundowning effect, a symptom of Alzheimer’s, but one theory is particularly relatable. According to this theory, dementia is viewed to have an effect on the circadian rhythm of the brain and as a result, Alzheimer’s patients may have trouble telling the difference between day and night. It gets worse when there are changes in time or when daylight is suddenly extended or lost.
Other times, sundowning can be caused by a patient’s needs not being met or him or her becoming stressed out when changes occur. During the night, Alzheimer’s patients will become more agitated and irritable, argumentative, have a tendency to wander and decreased awareness of where they are, and fidgety and restless. Some patients can become overactive while others become quiet and withdrawn.
Sundowning is a repetitive and predictable pattern of behavior. As a caregiver or loved one to a patient, you must know the behaviors and learn to manage them calmly. Listen to their concerns, answer their questions but redirect their attention to something different. Whatever you do, never react with anger or try to argue a point with a person who has Alzheimer’s.
Are You Having Trouble Caring For Someone With Alzheimer’s?
Call (480) 999-3012 and talk to one of our staff at Devoted Guardians. We are one of Arizona’s largest home care providers and offer daily 24-hour living assistance, including nighttime watch and personal assistance.
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We strive to hire only people with positive caring, responsible and mature mindsets in order to keep clients safe, happy, and healthy in their home while promoting a quality of life with dignity. Got questions? Call us!