Although sundowning is a common symptom of Alzheimer’s disease, those with Lewy Body Dementia may also experience this occurrence. Lewy Body Dementia symptoms progress in stages that gradually become more severe. In some cases, individuals with Lewy Body Dementia (LBD) may experience a group of symptoms known as sundowning. Sundowning is a state of confusion or agitation that occurs toward the end of the day. If your loved one’s symptoms worsen at the onset of the late afternoon or evening, consider the tips we share here to help alleviate stress for both of you:
Create a Consistent Schedule
Individuals with LBD and other dementias often feel less stressed when they follow a consistent routine. A predictable schedule is especially helpful for those who experience sundowning. When planning the daily schedule, try to keep the last hours leading up to bedtime laid-back to aid in relaxation. If you’ve already found a routine that works for you both but adjustments are necessary, be sure to introduce changes gradually.
Plan Physical Activities (Preferably Outdoors)
Staying physically active is often immensely helpful for those with LBD. Lewy Body Dementia symptoms frequently include nighttime disturbances and difficulty sleeping, and exercise is excellent for reducing these problems. Whenever possible, opt for outdoor exercise. Some experts believe that a lack of exposure to natural light may lead to an increase in sundowning, so make it a priority to take a walk outside during the daytime hours. If going outdoors is not an option, aim to let bright light shine through windows, and ask your loved one’s physician about adding Vitamin D to their daily regimen. Additionally, consider purchasing special LED lighting.
Keep a Watchful Eye For Triggers
If sundowning is a new experience for your loved one, speak with a medical professional and keep an eye out for triggers. Activities scheduled in the later part of the day may cause an elevation in stress and confusion, or a cup of coffee in the afternoon may contribute to these symptoms. It may take some time to pinpoint triggers, but it’s worth taking note of what’s going on in the environment or routine when these symptoms occur.
Find Calming Strategies
Sundowning often leads to challenging behaviors that are stressful for all involved. The best thing you can do is stay calm and find ways to help your loved one mitigate his or her anxiety. For some individuals, soft music helps de-escalate negative feelings. Others respond well to pet therapy or looking at familiar photos.
Although approximately 1.4 million Americans have LBD, many individuals feel alone or confused after their loved one has received a diagnosis. If you’re struggling to cope with Lewy Body Dementia symptoms and would like support or guidance, our team is here to help. Our helpline is available 12 hours a day each day of the week, and you can also send us an email at any time. We’re happy to speak with you to provide insight, help connect you with resources in your area, or simply to discuss any topic relating to LBD.