Could you imagine not knowing what’s going on when the sun sets every day? Imagine walking around during the day, going about your business, and the moment the sun starts to set things start to change. Suddenly you don’t know what you’re doing or where you are. You can’t remember what’s going on and you don’t understand anything around you. Now sometimes it could last for a little bit, and then other times it can last a whole night until the sun rises. It’s a scary thought, isn’t it? However for people with Sundowner Syndrome, it’s not just a thought. It’s a reality.
Sundowner Syndrome is a medical condition that affects patients who have Alzheimer’s Disease. Sundowner Syndrome can prevent Alzheimer’s patients from sleeping well and may cause them to wander more often. However, Sundowner Syndrome doesn’t just affect the patient with Alzheimer’s. The caregivers are also affected because the less sleep and more wandering the patient is, the more stressful it is on a caregiver. This is so because the caregiver has a responsibility to keep the patient safe at all times which makes it difficult when the patient is awake all the time.
Sundowner Syndrome affects nearly 20% of people who are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. The medical condition can cause patients to show signs of forgetfulness, confusion, easily agitated, delirium, anxiety, and restlessness. In addition, patients may pace the floor, wander, yell, or become combative.
The causes of Sundowner Syndrome are not completely understood. However, through researched, it has been found that the syndrome could be connected to the brain’s circadian pacemaker, which is the nerves which keep the body functioning on a 24-hour clock. It is thought that the brain’s circadian pacemaker changes, causing changes to the nerves and the patient. In addition it is thought that poor nourishment, pain, an excess of medication, and even an infection could contribute to the development of Sundowner Syndrome.
Sundowner Syndrome, however, can be treated in a few ways. Some of these ways are as simple as eating healthy, engaging in more activities, a good sleeping environment, and even light therapy. Further, a patient exhibiting signs of Sundowner Syndrome can also make an appointment with their doctor to determine if the condition is pain related. With all of the different options, patients with Sundowner Disease do not have to live with the condition for long. They can be assisted and go back to living their lives before the condition.