Sundowning: The Onset of Alzheimer’s

A problem develops for Alzheimer’s patients that at first glance seems mystifying to the untrained eye. It is one of the classic key symptoms that Alzheimer’s has is attacking the brain, its called sun downing. Sun downing is brought on by several different factors. If you know someone, or are a loved someone by an Alzheimer’s patient, and especially if you are a care giver; you will need to be informed about it. Know what to look for so you can help your patient or loved one with coping, and you can cope too.

The symptoms of sun downing are exaggerated just as the sun begins to set in the sky, that’s why it’s termed, sun downing. Remember, all of the common symptoms listed below are pronounced in intensity; it’s not that they don’t occur during the early morning and daylight hours before sunset. My father, who died from complications of Alzheimer’s disease, eventually experienced all of these as the disease progressed.

� Loss of recent memory experiences
� Loss of task memory
� Loss of language communication
� Loss of time and space memory
� Loss of value judgments
� Loss of abstract abilities
� Loss of memory with items
� Loss of emotional stability
� Loss of normal personality
� Loss of memory with social events

Doctors and other health care professionals are lead to believe that because the brain is being damaged by growing layers of plaques and calcification, it also short circuits the natural bio rhythms of the sleep, and wake cycle too. This affects in turn the emotional, mental and physical capabilities of a person with Alzheimer’s. It can be compared to a child that is tired, but feels that they have to push themselves at a homework task, and becomes extremely agitated, and cannot complete the assignment. It is a vicious cycle of emotional and physical energy that leads to more aggravation.

One aspect that is especially heightened is the lack of sleep, and if they are mobile, wandering around the house, or even leaving the safety of the house. Suspiciousness of people or sounds around them, or emotional outbursts of anger or fear, is two symptoms from the list above that is exaggerated at this time of day.

There are several ways that you can help your loved one with Alzheimer’s sun downing.

� Talk with your doctor about prescription sleeping aids.
� Increase physical activity.
� Talk with your doctor about the new use of light therapy.

Light therapy is a new concept in helping people Alzheimer’s. It seems that by using the correct dosage of light therapy has been shown to help people sleep, in a normal sleep wake cycle, by making the brain realize that itÃ?¡Ã?¦s the correct time to sleep and rest. Studies from clinical trials have shown that they can also function at a higher level with their daily tasks of living. Check out the governmental website of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services at You can find information on aging, diseases, resources for hospitals and doctors specializing in Alzheimer’s, long term facility health care, and laws and regulations on health care rights.

Also, you can go to another governmental website that is part of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services- for The National Institutes of Health. You can find health hotlines, news on clinical trials, and even subscribe to the newsletter on health issues at

Speak with your doctor today if you have, or know of someone that has Alzheimer’s and sun downing symptoms, there is help available. If you are a care giver too, it is really important for you to get help. You are responsible for them, and you would not want them injured in an accident. Also, you need your rest too, so you can help them live with Alzheimer’s from day to day.

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