Bo got up from his nap on the living room sofa and was looking out the French doors at our back yard.
“When are we going home?” he asked.
My heart dropped.
“We are home.” I was alarmed.
“Oh, …” he looked confused, “I guess I was sleeping.”
I walked over to him, put my arm around his shoulder and pointing out the doors, asked, “What is that, Boris?”
“Our back yard,” he sounded sure but his brow was wrinkled.
“You must have still been asleep,” I soothed.
But was he? I ask myself what kind of sleep he experiences when he takes his many naps during the day. Is it a deep, dreaming sleep that doesn’t really clear up as he gets up? Or is he just lying there, not sleeping, but too tired to get up?
He sleeps lighter at night now, awakening if I enter or leave the room, or if I sit up in bed. I know that Alzheimers patients often reverse their days and wander at night. So far, that hasn’t happened although he does get up to let the cat out and sometimes has a snack.
The stress that he occasionally demonstrates in early evening is a sign of “sundowning,” a dementia-related sleeplessness and agitation. I pray this doesn’t increase. I’ve seen patients at a nursing home who are pacing and panicked, lost and confused.
The gray, rainy weather seriously affects his days. He wants to sleep. Two days ago we had a particularly ugly day, and mid-afternoon, after running some errands with Emma and me, he went up to bed “for a nap” at four o’clock. When I went up a litte later, I found him under the covers, undressed for the night, the room dark.
But when I told him it was dinner time, he got up to eat, then returned to bed. He now eats well, having gone through the period when he didn’t want to eat. He seems to enjoy his food, especially the desserts and ice cream.
Yesterday was different. He slept less, walked the dog several times, and we went to the store after dinner to look for a new dog bed for Emma. He had a sundae when he came home — then he went to bed. A better day.