Saturday, May 25, 2013

Singing and Sundowning

Music continues to amaze me as a tool for reaching deep into the minds of dementia patients. There are accounts of dementia patients who haven't spoken in years who will suddenly start singing when exposed to music from their past. It can truly be a miraculous thing.

As I've mentioned before, Dad has always loved music. Whenever a guest musician is at Memory Care, Dad does his best to sing along. He used to be a wonderful dancer, too, but we haven't been able to get him to dance with us. So far. *grin* You can see the latest attempt in the video as one of Dad's favorite aides tries to coax him into some moves. In the beginning of the video, you can also see Dad trying to sing and eat at the same time...with varying degrees of success. :)

The consensus now seems to be that Dad is sundowning and that this is the reason for him acting out in the early evenings. According to WebMD, "Sundowning...affects some people who have Alzheimer's disease and dementia. People with dementia who 'sundown' experience periods of increased confusion and agitation as the sun goes down -- and sometimes through the night. Sundowning may prevent people with dementia from sleeping well. It may also make them more likely to wander."

Sundowners' behaviors may include pacing the floor, yelling, and becoming combative. We are told Dad does all of the those.

Because the agitation and anger is not good for him (or for the other Memory Care residents), the plan now is to adjust Dad's medications to see if we can find a way to take the edge off the sundowning and give Dad (and his caregivers) some relief. We are only into the first week of adjustments. It may take a while to find the right solution.

In the picture I've included with this post, you can see the after-effects of Dad's latest bout of eczema. His face gets brightly inflamed and then flakes. He told us the other day that he had a "sunburn." He has a prescription face wash that prevents these outbreaks when used on a daily basis, however it appears that sometimes it's forgotten. *sigh*

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