Respite Reduction

The sun is setting earlier in the day and Lyn's Sundowner's has come back with a vengeance.  On Monday, when her respite provider brought her home after dinner, Lyn was very upset.  There was nothing in particular that her respite provider or another person had done to upset her.  She was upset because she wasn't sure how to express her fear and anxiety that they were someplace unknown or that they were lost.  She just wanted to be home where she feels safe.  It was her respite provider's first real exposure to Sundowner's.

Mom and I had anticipated that this would happen and knew it was a matter of time.  Mom had suggested that we may need to reduce the number of evening hours Lyn is out with respite during the shortened days.  When Lyn came home Monday, Mom made the suggestion to her respite provider and the suggestion was readily accepted.  It is not that we want to reduce Lyn's time out and about.  It really comes down to asking if it is the right thing for her to be out if she's just going to be anxious and acting out of fear.  The Saturday respite hours will remain in place.

When Mom spoke with Lyn about it, she asked if Lyn knew what Sundowner's is.  Lyn did not.  Mom explained that when the sun sets the lights change and it seems like you are in a different place.  Lyn said "That's what I see every night."  Mom talked to Lyn a few minutes more and told her about the time that they were on the way home from dinner with Grandma many years ago and Grandma said "I hope you know where you're going."  Grandma didn't recognize that they were just a mile or two from home and thought they were in Santa Fe.  Lyn found the story funny though she didn't remember that event.  Mom explained that because Lyn gets anxious in the evenings, she didn't have to go out.  Lyn relaxed and said that was what she wanted.

Lyn has struggled with Sundowner's for years.  However, she's reacting to it much more strongly than she did even a year ago.  There are tears that are now accompanied with verbal lashing out and what can only be described as hatefulness.  It is all fear, really.  We don't want her to feel so unsafe that she physically lashes out.  She has not and we would like to avoid that.

We don't know if she will be able to resume more respite hours when the seasons turn and the days grow long again.  She might.  However, her brain changes over the course of 6 months is significant and we're at a point where it is very difficult to predict how much she can tolerate that far out in the future.  So, for now, her respite will be limited to daylight hours.


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