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Carers UK Forum • SUNDOWNING
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Posted: Thu Jun 09, 2011 10:25 am
by susieq
Had another bad night with Mum, she really is getting more difficult to handle in the evenings. She can be relatively good during the day but it all starts to kick off about 5pm and goes downhill from there. Had another one of those quiet Q&A sessions during the afternoon along the lines of:

"Is this my home ?"
“Yes Mum”
"Are my sisters all dead ?"
“Sadly, yes Mum”
"What's wrong with me ?"
“Your memory is failing”
"Is there a cure ?”
“Unfortunately not yet”
"Am I a nuisance ?"
“No Mum”
“Am I in a home ?”
“No Mum, you are in your own home”
“Do I live alone ?”
“No Mum, I live with you now”
“Are you my sister ?”
“No Mum I’m your daughter”

And round and round, same questions, same answers for the best part of 2 hours.

But then closer to bedtime the whole tenor of the questions changes and becomes very paranoid and aggressive. Along the lines of we're keeping things from her and trying to make her believe she is going mad

If I can’t change the subject and get her onto safer ground then I try to answer the questions truthfully, but gently and in a non-contradictory way; I’ve found that if I contradict her outright then the results can be quite explosive:

“This is not my home”
“Yes, it is Mum - you’ve lived here a long time”

That doesn’t work but asking her to tell me her address and/or getting her to recognise her own belongings around her can work.

I think that this ’sundowning’ is one of the worst aspects of Alzheimer’s - by it’s very nature it kicks off late in the day just at the time when I’m beginning to get tired and therefore more likely to snap - I’m not a ’late bird’, much prefer to be in my bed by 1030 or so but I’m having to cope with being up till midnight or later and then still getting my sleep disturbed when she wakes (averagely) at 3am and starts wandering around the flat in a panic not recognising where she is (last night she was at the cinema and couldn’t find her way out !!).

I am really loathe to go down the route of feeding her sleeping tablets or any other medication that would ’quieten’ her down but I’m not sure how much longer I can cope with the endless rounds of repetitive questioning and lack of sleep.

Has anyone got any ideas - PLEASE Image Image Image


Posted: Thu Jun 09, 2011 12:44 pm
by daylily
Oh susieq, sorry I've no ideas but really feel for you. Must be driving you nuts with the lack of sleep on top of the endless questions.
Deep breath, count to 5000????? and persevere.
Sorry can't help. Will be thinking of you
Take care


Posted: Thu Jun 09, 2011 4:38 pm
by Lazydaisy
Susie, would it be possible to ask your sister to stay there for a night or two, to give you a break?It is so difficult to manage without sleep, especially when your natural urge to to go to sleep earlyish.
Sometimes when Ben's blood is low,and we have to stay up late, I really resent the diabetes,but it is not every night, as you are having at the moment.
I hope you do find a way to be able to have an overnnight break.


Posted: Thu Jun 09, 2011 6:39 pm
by Melly1
Hi Susie,

Sleep deprivation makes it so much harder to cope and be patient. No wonder you are struggling.

In blind children and those with autism who have difficulties with sleeping, melatonin is used - the argument being that it is something naturally found in our bodies and needed for sleep and these children don't have enough melatonin in their bodies - I don't know if this is suitable for those with dementia ... but might be worth enquiring.

Perhaps a compromise might be for your Mum to take something to help her sleep just a few nights a week, you'd both benefit after all - you would both get a decent night's sleep - and your Mum would have a more refreshed daughter. Maybe you could ask the chemist about herbal ones to try first ...



Posted: Thu Jun 09, 2011 8:09 pm
by Sparklingtechie
Have you heard of SPECAL? Specialised Early Care for Alzheimer's ....one of their methods, for the very reasons you mentioned, is not to contridict. I have just done this in some course material for my degree and basically you use certain memories as snapshots in time...with these snap shots you create a memory album. The thing is, if you go over certain events ...like the conversation you discribed in a particular way then it becomes a current memory and can be stuck in the memory album like a book mary (eg a memory of going to the sea) As it is stuck there then the loss for that memory is not total. eg the bit about her sister...she sounds like she sort of knows.
Tel. 01993 822129 / e-mail: info@specalburford.co.uk

I must warn you though, the alzheimers society is not in favour of this as its new and contriversial.But then so was chemotherapy at one time Image


Posted: Thu Jun 09, 2011 10:54 pm
by susieq
Thanks all for your replies Image

Melly - I had thought of melatonin, but the main problem with Mum is getting her to take tablets ! She has to know what each one is and what it is for - I have to go through explanations every morning with her blood pressure and Alsheimer's tablets. Tonight she has asked me for a couple of paracetamol as she believes they help her sleep - well we'll see if they do the trick.

Lazydaisy - I have broached the subject with my sister, but got little response. The problem there is my bro-in-law (selfish whatsit !!).

Sparkling -
then it becomes a current memory
nowadays Mum barely remembers anything for longer than an hour, often less ! I think her dementia is too far advanced for her to make new memories which is why her questions are always the same ones and why she is always surprised/shocked by the answers. Tonight we had out her Memory photo album and she had trouble recognising people she's known all her/their life. She has trouble actually recognising her sisters although she talks about them all the time and she hardly recognises me these days - often confusing me with her Mother or sisters.

Earlier this evening we had a long chat about just visiting care homes - nowadays she will have brief lucid flashes when she realises that I am living here to look after her and what I have given up to do so. But the chat about 'visiting' quickly became a confusion that she was actually living in one now. But I've taken the bull by the horns and made arrangements to take her to see the one I like on Monday - she will have forgotten today's conversation totally by then - but I live in hopes that the visit won't be totally in vain. Certainly if she likes it I will make arrangements for her to go in for a short period of respite care as soon as possible and if after staying there she still likes it I will begin the process of getting her a permanent placement.

So keep your fingers crossed for me that all goes well on Monday.


Posted: Fri Jun 10, 2011 4:48 am
by charles47
fingjhrwse vcrosswed...fingrhee...oh you know what I mean, Susie! Image


Posted: Fri Aug 05, 2011 7:30 am
by Sonia
Morning Susieq

Hope you were able to get a good night's sleep.
Just a thought on Care Homes. I took my Mum to one on Monday, that have started a Lunch club for people to come in three times a week.
So I decided to go along, just really to have a look. I found it to be a very nice way of doing it. Had a lovely home cooked meal 3 course's. We sat by two nice ladies who liked to chat. Mum enjoyed it.
It gave me an insight and a feeling about the place.
It's a shame that more places did'nt do it this way. Maybe they do I don't know.
I hope all goes well for your visit with your Mum on Monday.
I suppose if this horrible sundowners happened much earlier in the day, you would beable to deal with it much better. Than when we are trying to wind down for the day, and its getting towards bedtime.
Hope you can manage to do something nice for you sometime over the weekend.
Take care
Love Sonia xxxx


Posted: Fri Aug 05, 2011 11:33 am
by cheryl
Started this thread, hope you fnd someting to work for you and your mum Susie x