In the case of dementia, a sizeable percentage of patients also have to deal with another condition or symptom known as Sundown (Sundowner’s) Syndrome. Very little is known about how this symptom came to be, and most of all, why these patients in particular, suffer from this condition.
As the name suggests, it shouldn’t be difficult to ascertain that Sundown Syndrome occurs during the darker hours (during and) after the sun goes down. Patients usually suffer from confusion and agitation during these hours and most medical experts believe that this is because of disturbed circadian rhythms.
While it is true that this syndrome affects patients with dementia, of which there are 70 variants, it should be noted that Alzheimer’s disease is probably the most common form of dementia that patients suffer from, and so that makes up for a large number of people who have to cope with Sundown Syndrome apart from Alzheimer’s disease as well.
In fact, most of the recognized cases of Sundown (or Sundowner’s) Syndrome usually involve patients going through the stages of Alzheimer’s disease, and most doctors’ attribute this to an excess of sensory stimulation that causes aggressive behavior amongst patients.
Not surprisingly, experts are not able to understand why both Sundowner’s Syndrome and Alzheimer’s disease occur together.
But what is important to note is that as the brain continues to deteriorate, thanks to dementia, and in particular Alzheimer’s disease, the patient finds it difficult to cope without rest after hours of being awake.
This applies to the information overload that takes place in the mind of the individual as well, and it is this reason why they tend to get agitated or confused. Bright lights and noises can really take its toll on these patients at night, and so, it is suggested by experts to eliminate all kinds of external stimuli to ensure that a patient has an easier time at night.
Caregivers have a special role to play in being loving and kind to the patient. These qualities are of paramount importance as they will have to bear the brunt of the agitation that the patient faces from time to time.
After all, no matter whether we’re able to understand why Alzheimer’s and Sundown Syndrome occur together, treating them with care is the best that can be done for them.