Life Sparkles

Sundowning, Sleep and Me.

Sundowning was something I had never heard of until about two years ago. Out of the blue Mom would get confused, agitated, nervous and not know if it was morning or evening. If we did get to bed there may be “room roaming”, Mom would be on patrol within her room, back and forth to the window wondering why it was dark during the day. Some nights we wouldn’t make it up to bed at all. Other nights we’d get to bed and sleep only to find ourselves back downstairs a few hours later. This is what has happened tonight. Last night Mom and I didn’t get to bed at all.

Since the Doctor said Mom’s topsy turvy nights were due to Sundowning I’ve read quite a lot about it. We don’t fit any of the profiles given (typical) however some of the remedies do work for us. Keeping to routines, staying calm and reassuring, making hot sweet tea and favourite biscuits as sometimes Sundowning can come on due to low blood sugar.

It is always worse when the clocks change. When our clocks recently changed due to the end of British Summer Time I was expecting a couple of weeks sleep disruption. We had four weeks where we went to bed every other night. We then had a run of six nights in a row of uninterrupted sleep which believe me was heaven. For the past two weeks we’ve had one Sundown night each week until this week; last night and tonight. Mom was expecting visitors. I tried to explain it was 2:30 am but Mom thought it was afternoon and of course in the depth of Winter we can have some very dark days where night time starts to descend mid to late afternoon; a typical Sundowning trait of switching night to day.

My night out last Sunday did not help things. Routine was upset, I was out and came home late, 1:15 am. Mom was happily enjoying her time with the Carer and Dad. I got into bed at 3 am and Mom got up at 6 am…last Monday was a very long tired out day.

A slight twist to the Sundown is that some nights Mom just doesn’t want to go to bed even though she is tired. This isn’t Sundowning. I’ve researched this too! It seems that elderly people can get so comfortable, cosy, warm and relaxed in their chair they don’t see the point in moving to bed, so they don’t, they sleep quite comfortably where they are. This is fine for them but hard on their carer who doesn’t get a proper night of sleep. There is no change of mood when this happens, no anxiety or confusion. My fairy of a Mom just wants to stay put where she is.

My main issue with being up at night on a regular basis is not only am I lacking in vital sleep but I need to keep going during the day to take care of Dad when he gets up and to do the cooking etc. I did very little yesterday and I’m thinking today is going to be written off chores wise. That’s how it goes, we just have to go with the flow. Keeping Mom happy, relaxed and safe is our priority.

We have had our 3 am tea and biscuits, Mom has fallen asleep in her chair, Dad is asleep upstairs and I’ll attempt a few hours sleep now. The wind and rain are pelting against the window, it’s comforting, soothing and I hope will help me drift off to sleep.

Pictures via Pinterest

©️ @aurorasparkles 2017

Life Sparkles

Love your bed!!

Why am I saying this? Because I haven’t managed to stay in bed all night for four nights out of six and at the moment, I’m not sure about tonight.

Mom is having a very unsettled week when it comes to bedtime. On average we experience one night in twentyone where I am up all night with Mom. It’s all part of the “Sundowning” which Mom goes through. Sundowning is a condition where the body clock goes out of kilter; for want of a better explanation. It is especially prominent in the Winter when it gets dark around 3 pm and doesn’t brighten up again until after 8:30 am. The start and end to British Summer Time, when the clocks go backwards and forwards are particularly challenging weeks where Mom can suffer with Sundown perhaps eight out of twelve days. It is particularly tiring for me as I am up with her; chatting, making tea, trying to remove the confusion or alleviate whatever it is that is causing her fear.  It was particularly hard to deal with when I had the day job; being up most of the night and then having to log in to work was stressful and at least now, if we’re up all night, it doesn’t affect anything other than my mood, energy levels and plans for the day which can always be changed.

Via Pinterest.

I no longer, and haven’t for a long time, taken for granted the simple act of getting into bed, going to sleep and staying in bed until morning.  Something I gave no thought to before, I just did it, has almost become the goal of the day. 

I don’t know why Mom is unsettled this week; we’ve had one all nighter, one get up and return to bed four times night (that’s unusual), one get up and stay up five minutes after going to bed in the first place and one “I’m not going to bed” night. Add to a couple of these confusion about not being in her own bed or home and it can be so hard to deal with…especially when you’re tired.

Tonight I inflated the blow up mattress my b/f uses when he comes to stay, (I’ve no idea how he manages to pack it away so small and tidy afterwards, that’s a task for the morning) however, no sooner had I got settled on the mattress as I just couldn’t face another night on the sofa and neither could my back, Mom decides to go to bed! Hallelujah!

Dad bless him does his best, he offers to stay up all night but I have to be strong, he has to lie in bed all night and get sleep, no argument.  The lack of sleep tiredness is so awful; makes me impatient, grumpy and absolutely no energy. I thought I was going to cry tonight when there was no sign of bed and my beautiful fairy of a Mom just wouldn’t have understood why.

Whether we stay up here or end up back downstairs is still open at the moment. Between us, I’m praying for a night of sleep in my bed.  I hope you are all sleeping well, love your bed!!

Via Pinterest 

Life Sparkles

A New Chapter.

I keep thinking of Autumn or the month of September these past few days. I’m not sure if that is down to the more Autumnal weather we’ve had in the last week or a state of mind because last Friday was my final day at the day job. Am I seeing myself as somehow suddenly reaching the Autumn of life because I’ve given up the day job, my career, my corporate city chick persona?

Friday was a more emotional day than I expected it to be. For all the upset during my notice period my manager did give me a lovely speech at the presentation. However, as she was talking about the reason I was leaving, it suddenly hit me full force the reason I was leaving my job, my friends and colleagues and my corporate life, in order to care for my parents for the rest of their lives. I felt so sad, sad that this was my role now, end of life care and I cried. I couldn’t speak to my colleagues to thank them as I choked up, some of them also cried, it is a position any of us can find ourselves in. I also felt relief. Relief that the stress and pressure of having to log in everyday, make the journey to the office and back is gone. My day is free to flow with whatever is going on in the home without worrying about deadlines, meetings and reporting.

Last week was also fairly exhausting on the home front. Dad’s knee swelled up due to arthritic joints and he couldn’t put any weight on it at all. Thank God we still had the walking frames from when Mom broke her hip. This though completely put him out of action and meant more running about for me, which I have no problem doing, on the go is good but oh so tiring. Dad being out of action affected Mom. We had two days of partial hunger strike as Dad wasn’t doing their breakfast as usual and on Tuesday night we had a Sundown night; up all night and no sleep until 6:30 am. I get up at 7 am for work; I have no idea how I have worked through these post Sundown work days.  I think I’m so used to them I just go into automatic pilot. However, from now on with no day job to worry about, being up all night is not going to be as troublesome as before…I hope!
So between Dad’s knee, Mom’s hunger strikes and sundowns, lack of sleep,  work and leaving work, it has been a fairly exhausting and emotional week. Although I leave the corporate city chick behind, I say bring on the carer, domestic goddess and songstress and let’s see the challenges, blessings and positives of the new chapter ahead.


Picture via Pinterest

© @aurorasparkles 2017

Life Sparkles

December Already!

December so far appears to have flown by as has 2016. I think this has been my fastest year ever…I must be getting old!!

It has been a busy month. Apart from the usual daily living there has been the preparation for Christmas to attend to. Shopping, gifts, cards, decorations all of which I love but this year I really felt I wouldn’t be ready in time. Mom’s “Sundowning” meant that I had to be very careful what I did and when so as not to upset her. It really threw me when I unpacked the Christmas Tree and Mom’s mood changed from being happy to worrying if someone had paid me to kill her. The tree was left and it took quite some time for me to calm her worries and anxiousness, bless her, it is so difficult to see her like that. Two days later we had Christmas music on and Mom merrily dressed the tree with me. Another lesson in things changing and having to adapt to doing things in different ways.

Today someone bought my Dad’s old car. Dad can no longer drive and hasn’t for two years and I think it was upsetting him to see it outside knowing he couldn’t just pop out and drive it. We held on to it for so long as Mom and Dad have had the car since 1984 and it holds lots of memories of trips, family holidays and the two of them going places together in it. When we discussed some time ago selling the car Mom got very upset as it was part of their story, their history, their life and deep down I think she was hoping that one day Dad would be able to drive again. Yet today, when the man that bought it drove away in it, it was me who felt tearful and sad.  I just hope tomorrow when Mom looks outside and the car is gone that we are not in for an emotional day.

And so it has been a mixed few weeks, an office Christmas meal out, a new little headband made from pure Sheep’s wool – Aran Isles – Ireland, a treat for me. Sundowning back in full force and therefore limited sleep and lots of Country Music. In the words of Jim Reeves “Welcome to my World” I wouldn’t change it for anything.

Mom made a Spiced Ginger cake for himself for Christmas, looks delicious!!

I’ve gone in the Pink/Purple for Christmas 🎄 

My week!

I hope you’ve had a great month so far…Here comes Christmas 🌟