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Spouse or Partner Caregiver Forum
To live in their world or not?
Most everything I have read emphasizes that there is no reasoning with a PWD, and I get that. However, a few weeks ago my DW (who I estimate to be in Stage 5) began having an odd type of sundowning. During the day she is aware of where she is but sometimes after she lies down in bed at night she begins insisting that she hates it "here" and wants to go home. She sometimes asks why I'm doing this to her and what happened to her house. We've lived in the same house for over 40 years. Sometimes she gets so upset about this that she sobs. But in the morning, all is well again.
At first I did try to reassure her that we were at home. I know that's counter to "living in her world" advice, but I felt that reinforcing what was obviously an upsetting situation in her mind was not helpful either. But she would just argue with me so I finally came up with a strategy to say we were just sleeping "here" and that we'd be home in the morning. That seems to work most of the time. Last night however it did not work as well and we spent probably an hour going back and forth about it until she finally fell asleep.
I'm going to talk to the PCP about it and see about maybe getting some sort of tranquilizer for bedtime because I hate to see her so upset. I also don't want her drugged like a zombie so I have mixed emotions about it.
Anyone else experienced this type of sundowning?
This is very common. There are threads here if you go back, or google “person with dementia wants to go home”. What you did about “go in the morning” was very good.
As you said, rational explanations and arguing rarely help an upset PWD.
The advice is (short version) to reassure the PWD that you are here, you will take care of them. Maybe say OK, we’ll go home in a bit, when it stops raining/when I get the car working/after we have some ice cream, etc.
what you said about sleeping here and go in the morning, was right on target. It just often takes longer than a few minutes.
You can’t convince them they are home, but you can tell them you are there to care for them, you’ll take care of them. They are upset; they may not know why. (As you said, they don’t know they’re at home. So....) You can comfort them, and try to distract them.
It may take an hour. But hopefully you can settle her a bit sooner. Or your doc may provide drugs.
There is a lot of longer, more detailed advice with specific things to say and how to distract, this is just a condensed version. Google also shows several scripts for sympathizing and distracting.
Trazodone is prescribed for many things, depression with or without anxiety, cocaine withdrawal, panic disorder, agoraphobia (fear of open spaces), insomnia and aggressive behaviors. This according to "The Pill Book".
Check with your doctor as to whether or not this is right for you. There are many drugs out there that could possibly help ask questions.