For those with loved ones affected by Alzheimer’s disease, sundowning is unfortunately all too familiar: restlessness, anxiety, or agitation during the evenings, compounded by fragmented sleep patterns. While it’s been thought that the culprit was a broken biological clock in Alzheimer’s patients, causing the inability to regulate the body’s sleep-wake system, new research is proving otherwise. Rather than an irreversible break, it seems more likely that it’s a matter of a disconnect – and potentially, there’s a way to correct it.
A University of Cambridge study shows that fruit flies that have Alzheimer’s disease still have a functional biological clock, but it has been disconnected from the insect’s sleep-wake cycle. By working with the fruit flies, scientists are hopeful that they can better understand how the brains and bodies of Alzheimer’s patients relate to their still-intact biological clocks in order to create new therapies to combat Sundown Syndrome.
Find out more about the disconnected body clock in Alzheimer’s patients in this article from Alzheimer’s Weekly.
At Regency Home Care of North Atlanta, our caregivers are specifically trained in handling challenging behaviors, such as sundowning, with patience and compassion. By identifying the cause of the behavior (or “trigger”), reacting calmly and reassuringly, and then modifying the environment or caregiving style, we work hard to keep your loved one with Alzheimer’s in the Atlanta area feeling at peace. Contact us to learn more.