Dementia Care at Home Aventura, FL: Signs of Sundowning

Seven Signs of Sundowning and How To Manage This Stage of Alzheimer’s

In 2020, the AARP caregiving study found that 28% of family caregivers were helping someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia. As this disease continues to grow in prevalence, it’s not surprising that you’re in this position. Your mom has Alzheimer’s disease and it’s becoming increasingly difficult.

At certain times of day, your mom becomes particularly belligerent. She’s verbally abusive, and she’s also been known to hit, slap, kick, and bite. What is going on?

Sundowning Is Likely

Sundowning is also known as late-day confusion. It’s a series of symptoms that often occur at a specific time of day in dementia patients. Watch for these seven signs of sundowning.

1. Aggression

Dementia Care at Home Aventura, FL: Signs of Sundowning
Dementia Care at Home Aventura, FL: Signs of Sundowning

Your mom was a kind person and never got upset with you as a child. Yet, Alzheimer’s has turned her into an abusive person and it shocks you. She becomes aggressive and will hit you, punch you, kick you, etc. if you tell her something she doesn’t want to hear or for no reason that you can pinpoint.

If she’s not being physically abusive, she calls you names, hurls insults, and says things that really hurt. She might tell you you’re ugly and she wishes you’d go away forever. It’s all part of sundowning.

2. Anxiety/Panic

Anxious behaviors pick up with sundowning. Your mom starts to have panic attacks for no reason. She may fly into a panic and nothing you do helps calm her down.

3. Confusion

When someone with dementia is sundowning, confusion is common. One example would be that your mom keeps asking for her parents, only they died decades ago. You can’t tell her they’re no longer alive. It’s best to make up a story about them being out for dinner and that they’ll be home soon.

4. Delusions

Delusions are strong beliefs that aren’t true, but the person fully believes them. When your mom is sundowning, she might tell you that her sister lives next door, but her sister lives on the other side of the country. She insists that she just had dinner with her sister and that you’re a liar.

5. Obstinance

You may notice that at a specific time at night, your mom becomes incredibly stubborn. She will not do anything you ask her to do. If she needs to brush her teeth, she refuses and keeps trying to get away.

6. Paranoia

Paranoia can appear with sundowning. Your mom is convinced that someone is after her. She might tell you that a neighbor threatened her with a weapon.

It’s also common to hear her say that someone broke in and stole the family pet, and she needs to get that dog back. But, the dog was from your childhood and hasn’t been part of her life for years.

7. Wandering

Pacing and wandering are extremely normal in sundowning. When she should be settling down for the night, your mom becomes convinced that she needs to go outside for a walk. She might comment about needing to go home. She’ll do anything to get outside, even if it means opening and climbing out a window.

What Do You Do?

The most important thing to do is hire caregivers to help you and your mom. Alzheimer’s care aides are experienced in managing sundowning, which is often the hardest aspect of caring for a parent.

You need to have breaks to de-stress and take care of yourself. Alzheimer’s care professionals make this happen. They’ll take over for a day while you do other things. Sleep in, visit friends, or relax at home.

If you or an aging loved-one is considering Dementia Care at Home in Aventura, FL please contact the caring staff at Specialized Nursing Services today. (305) 652-2799


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