There is not a well established treatment for Sundowners Syndrome, but there is hope in a number of approaches that have proven to help calmed down sufferers of the condition. Some of the more successful approaches to managing Sundowners Syndrome can be found below:
Medication: In some of the Sundowners cases that are associated with depression or sleep disorders medication may be very helpful. Treatment is usually limited to the underlying condition which triggers the condition, such as Alzheimer’s or depression. Anti-depressants may lessen the severity of the confusion, and there are some drugs that can help improve cognitive function. Make sure to consult with a physician to find out what types of medications might be beneficial.
Establish a Routine: Routines help sufferers of Sundowners feel safe and minimize surprises. Without a routine the patient may remain in a constant state of anxiety and confusion, as his or her limited cognitive skills are unable to deal with the unpredictability of the day. More vigorous activities should be scheduled in the morning hours. Try not to schedule more than two major activities in a day.
Monitor the Diet: Watch for certain foods that may trigger patterns of behavior. Avoid foods and drinks with caffeine or large amounts of sugar. This is especially important for late in the day.
Control Noise: It may be helpful to reduce excess noise from radios, televisions, and other household entertainment devices, especially in the late afternoon and early evening. Avoid having visitors come over in the evening hours. However, soothing music has been proved to help calm agitated behavior in some patients. Other sounds that sometime help are recordings of singing birds or ocean waves.
Soothing Touch: Soothing touch has been proven to work to calm a person with Sundowners, but only with those who are not angry or violent. Try hand holding, a hand massage, or affectionate touch if your loved one is not in an angry state.
Let Light In: Light boxes that contain full-spectrum lights have been found to minimize the effects of Sundowners by mimicking real sunlight. As the evening approaches, keep the rooms well-lit so that the surroundings do not seem to shift. Night lights can help reduce stress as well.
Take Supplements: Some over the counter supplements may be beneficial. Be sure to consult a physician on which would be best. Ginkgo Biloba and St. John’s Wort have assisted people with Alzheimer’s and dementia in the past. Vitamin E has also been found to minimize Sundowners Syndrome in some cases. Because Sundowners is closely associated with sleep disorders and fatigue, sedatives and other sleeping aids may also help such as Melatonin.
Dealing with a person with Sundowners Syndrome can be extremely stressful. In order to take care of your loved one make sure you are taking care of yourself. If the load gets beyond what you can bear make sure to look into quality Alzheimer’s Care Providers that are familiar with and equipped to deal with Sundowners patients. Or you can get some help at home by looking into Senior Home Care Providers. For tips on how to manage the stress of caring for a person with Sundowners, read the answer to: “How do I cope with the stress of caregiving?”