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Why Aging Adults with Alzheimer’s Turn to Shadowing

By Nick Paciello, 9:00 am on

During the later stages of Alzheimer’s, many aging adults begin shadowing their loved ones. For caregivers, this may be unsettling behavior, as it often persists for very long stretches of time. With shadowing, people with Alzheimer’s mimic nearly everything their caregivers say and do. Henderson senior home care experts share a few possible reasons for this behavior.

Living with a Pervasive Sense of Fear

The primary cause of shadowing is fear. Seniors with Alzheimer’s experience a near-constant sense of disconnection from the world around them. They may not know where they are, why they are there, or what they should do. Being able to mirror the actions and words of someone they trust tends to calm them down, although it may have the opposite effect on caregivers.

Recognizing Caregivers Have Their Best Interests at Heart

Caregivers in Henderson are often in full control of a senior’s eating habits and daily routine. Seniors with Alzheimer’s may have difficulty connecting with their present realities and are often aware of their growing dependency on their caregivers. In addition to the fear caused by feelings of disconnection, people with Alzheimer’s also have the fear of becoming separated from their caregivers. Constantly watching and mirroring their caregivers is a way for seniors to keep these individuals close.

Shadowing and Sundowning

Sundowning, or late-day confusion, is another sign of late-stage Alzheimer’s. It can lead to several behavioral issues right before bedtime, such as outbursts, refusal to participate in regular and essential activities, agitation, and suspicion. Shadowing and sundowning are similar in that seniors are most likely to begin shadowing their caregivers in the afternoon and throughout the evening hours. Because these two behaviors indicate cognitive decline, they frequently appear together. For instance, after any significant sundowning event, you may wake to find your aging relative standing over you and watching you while you sleep. Moreover, much like seniors rarely remember sundowning-related outbursts the next morning, your senior loved one may not remember shadowing you at all after the evening hours have passed.

Accommodating Shadowing by Alleviating the Underlying Fear

No matter how disconcerting shadowing may be, it’s important to remember its primary motivators are anxiety and fear. You may be able to limit these occurrences and their intensity by speaking positive affirmations in a calm and soothing voice. For instance, telling your loved one everything is all right and that you have no intention of leaving him or her may make shadowing subside. You should also determine which words, activities, and actions tend to heighten your loved one’s fear, be it changing the living environment, inviting new people into the environment, or temporarily altering his or her schedule. Any changes that make seniors feel more vulnerable during the later stages of dementia may trigger shadowing.

Alzheimer’s care experts, such as the ones at Home Care Assistance, rely on modern methods to enhance quality of life for seniors. Our patented Cognitive Therapeutics Method was designed to slow down memory impairment in seniors with Alzheimer’s and assist them in memory retention. To learn more about this program and how our reliable Alzheimer’s care in Henderson, NV, can help your loved one, call a knowledgeable Care Manager at (702) 527-7723 today.