Sun downing

Sun downing is an interesting phenomenon.Thought I would give you a medical description of sun downing before I tell you my experiences with it. Try this link from Web MD  http://www.webmd.com/alzheimers/guide/sundowning-causes-symptoms-treatments.com"Sun down syndrome -- also called sun downing -- is a behavior common in people with Alzheimer's disease. It describes the confusion, anxiety, agitation, or disorientation that often occur at dusk and into the evening hours. The episodes may last a few hours or throughout the night.While the exact cause of sundown syndrome is not known, experts believe there are several contributing factors. These include physical and mental exhaustion (after a long day), and a shift in the "internal body clock" caused by the change from daylight to dark. Some people with Alzheimer's disease have trouble sleeping at night, which may contribute to their disorientation. Medication that can cause agitation or confusion also may contribute to this syndrome." WebMDMy first experience with sun downing happened a few years ago when I was taking care of a lovely woman who was then 88. She had been fine all day, a little spacey but fine.  That evening just as the sun was going down about 5:00 or so, she started asking about her husband, who had long been dead. She wanted to know what he wanted for dinner and when he would be home. I talked her through her questioning, always being mindful not to hurt her feelings or embarrass her. She finally understood that he would not be there but it was hard for her to grasp.When the next caregiver arrived to take over I mentioned what had happened and that's when she told me about sun downing. Apparently when the sun sets there is a barometric change in the atmosphere that triggers confusion in the brain. This is very common in people with dementia and Alzheimer's. It can be startling for the caregivers as I just illustrated but it is very normal. This period can make them vulnerable which can result in them wandering around outside or in hallways where they aren't supposed to be. Needless to say this is a night mare for the families and caregivers. It's something we need to pay attention to but not be startled by. She ended up dying of Alzheimer's 2 years later. It happened recently to another woman that I am taking care of but this time I was prepared for it and less startled. I first noticed it last fall and this is now 7 months later. There have been a few more episodes since.  It's always something that needs to be reported because it can signal a beginning to Alzheimer's. This being said everyone is different. My Uncle lived with Alzheimer's for 25 years! Most people don't live that long with this disease. Everybody is different.

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