Summer solstice falls on the 21st of June each year. It’s the point at which the Earth’s northern pole is tilted at the closest possible position to the sun. Summer solstice can impact people with Alzheimer’s in a condition known as sundowning. Generally, sundowning worsens after the summer solstice. As fall and winter arrive and days get shorter, sundowning is the worst. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen the rest of the year: it does. Senior home care services can help you prepare for it.
What Happens With Sundowning?
Sundowning is aptly named as it often appears as the sun goes down. The person with Alzheimer’s becomes agitated and can even get mean. Name-calling, insults, and combative behavior may appear. As a family caregiver, it gets stressful seeing someone you love turn on you.
The behavior increases as the sun sets and rooms become darker and shadowy. You can try to ease the behaviors by turning on lights while a room is still bright. Set lights on timers to ensure you don’t forget to turn them on.
This can help, but it won’t always stop sundowning. You also need to be ready to redirect. If your mom starts hitting or slapping you because she’s getting agitated, have a distraction nearby. Music, a favorite food, or a toy can be enough to redirect her.
Pay Attention to Signs That Something Is Wrong
While Sundowning is common, agitation and anger can also occur if your mom is uncomfortable or in pain. Be ready to rule out concerns like cuts or sores that are painful, a UTI, or a headache. You can check her skin for sores and bruises. You might find your mom picks at or bites her skin a lot. If this happens, keep the wound clean and covered in a bandage as much as possible.
UTIs are harder to detect, but you may notice your mom having more accidents than usual. You might notice she’s often going into the bathroom. Take her to the doctor to be checked. You may want to test her at home and know she’s likely to fight you during a trip to the doctor’s office. You can get test strips online and in some pharmacies.
If your mom has had UTIs in the past, make sure she drinks plenty of water. Cranberry juice that’s naturally sweetened and doesn’t contain added sugar or corn syrup can help with frequent UTIs, too.
Hire Senior Home Care Services
When your mom experiences sundowning, it’s stressful. As her family caregiver, you need to take steps to take care of yourself. As her agitation increases, balance her care needs with your own. Arrange senior home care services to ensure you have time for self-care. It’s the best way to avoid burning out.