Do you find yourself Googling to identify a disease to go along with your symptoms? For example, when you have a fever of 102, chills and no appetite, do you surmise that you're coming down with a bad case of the flu? Do you believe everything you're reading on the internet? If we take a step back and allow ourselves to read a bit further, we may also find that a fever, chills and no appetite might apply to at least 40 or 50 other conditions and diseases! Crazy isn't it that we continue to stick to our own conclusions until a medical professional either validates or blows apart our precious theory?
I reacted the same way when it came to my mom's Alzheimer's diagnosis, until I could no longer fight what the professionals were saying. I was seeing the symptoms, and the changes I saw were much more than a fever and chills. What about Alzheimer's disease? Its symptoms and descriptive behaviors are as numerous as the folks suffering from this awful disease. No wonder we caregivers and advocates live in the land of confusion as we try desperately to pick apart the evidence staring us face on. One moment we hope, and the next moment our hopes are dashed.
Recently, Mother's moods were running from high to low and back again, all in a matter of hours. I wondered what was causing this when a friend shared with me that she might be sun downing. I smiled, thinking, oh, how appropriate for someone who's spent her entire adult life as a sun-worshipper.
I reached into the symptoms of sundowning, also known as Sundowner's Syndrome. It seems to occur in the late afternoon or early evening and, according to the Sundowner's Facts website, and can include increased confusion, disorientation, agitation, anger, depression, restlessness, paranoia and rapid mood changes. Well, I declare! That certainly explained the swing in my mother's recent moods. The symptoms are often more severe and pronounced, and almost always worsen as the sun goes down and natural daylight fades.
|People pay big money to have a tan like Joan!|
Last summer I received a call from her care center. They were concerned that Mother was spending too much time in the court yard sunning herself. They asked me if they should bring her inside or put some sun-screen on her. I replied that she had spent every waking minute on sunny days for the past 70 years sun tanning and never using sunscreen! No need to change anything now.
Personally, I can't wait until daylight ebbs longer and the sunlight gets warmer. I can't even imagine how much the "sun goddess" inside of Joan longs to thrive again. I'm convinced that spring and summer is exactly what the doctor would order for Sundowning, if only he could write a prescription for it.