More Than Meets the Eye, True Stories about Death, Dying, and Afterlife covers many aspects of the dying and grieving process and sheds light on euthanasia, suicide, near-death experience, and spirit visits after the passing of a loved one. ___________________________________________

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Sundowners Syndrome

My maternal grandmother, Nanny, is having a bit of confusion, restlessness, and anxiety in the evenings. It usually manifests about 7 p.m. During this period, she doesn't trust that we are giving her the correct medications; she fights us when we try to feed her; and she cries and moans for hours, begging Jesus to take her home. It's heart wrenching and exhausting to be in the house with this energy.

It's like hitting a switch and Nanny changes into this insecure, forgetful, childish, and pitiful person that I've never known her to be. It's almost like she has Alzheimer's, but her mind was very clear before this last surgery, and it is still clear during the day. My daughter told me this type of mood disorder is called "sundowners syndrome." I looked it up online.

Sundowners syndrome, also known as sundowning, is a condition in which sufferers (particularly the elderly) experience periods of extreme agitation and confusion during the late afternoon or early evening hours. Some patients may be irritable toward caregivers or hospital staff. It is believed that sundowners syndrome is related to the decreased amount of light in the evening and night hours. It can be caused by drug interactions or stress associated with lower cognitive function. About 45% of elderly patients who have had anesthesia are affected by sundowners syndrome.

When sundowners syndrome hits in the evening, Nanny wants someone to stay in the room with her. If Mom or I hold her hand, she will doze off, but if she is alone, she can't sleep and she repeatedly calls us to come hither. We were up with Nanny for about four hours last night. No wonder my mom is exhausted. She's been staying up at night with Nanny for the past two weeks, and still has to handle meal preparation, keep Nanny's medicines on schedule, bathe her, change her diapers, and do all the household chores. Mom has been handling Nanny's care for almost a year since Nanny fell and broke her hip last November. Nanny was cooperating with physical therapy and eating well. Now she is so weak, she can't even roll over to help mom dress her.

My mom turns 70 this December. We are going to have to hire some help before this pace affects her health.

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