Nights Are Tough

Evening time is TV time with Mom. She is an avid Milwaukee Brewers fan, so during the summer we are usually watching the game. Most nights I start yawning beginning around 7pm. I do my best not to be obnoxious about it, but there are some days when I am feeling completely exhausted by that time. Most times I’ll power through and try to make it to 9pm, which is when bedtime routine begins.

Lately she has begun a new pattern … as we near the end of the bedtime routine, all of a sudden she develops breathing difficulty, or chest pains, or pain around her tailbone will flare up. Anything that will stop me from leaving her. Even though Dad is right there in the room with her, she has really started dreading the night. It’s dark. It’s quiet. She’s “alone”. It’s not too far fetched because since I started caring for them 4 years ago, night is when we typically called 911.

I mean, I know she’s not “faking it”, but to my exhausted brain and close-to-dried-up-patience-bin, it drives me crazy! I’ve typically been awake 16 to 18 hours with one or the other of them by this time, and I need to get some sleep!

I’ve heard of “Sundowning”, but I also understand that it is generally associated with Alzheimer’s and most forms of dementia, which Mom does not have. So what is this? Anxiety? Psychosomatic? She’s not “more active” or wanting conversation, etc which are typical patterns of Sundowning.

Even if she’s “fine” as we’re completing our bedtime routine, she’ll have this forlorn look on her face and practically wimper “good night” to me as I turn out the lights to head to my bedroom. She just doesn’t seem to be able to sleep well at night…


A myriad of feelings washes over me: annoyed, tired, guilt for leaving, empathy for her conditions, and frustrated, to name a few.

Needless to say, unless I’m really wiped out, I’m not going to be falling asleep any time soon. So I’ll sit in bed and read or listen to music. It’s usually only a matter of 30 minutes or so until she calls me, so why bother?

Anyone with a similar experience? Do you have any suggestions for me dealing with this?


2 thoughts on “Nights Are Tough”

  1. You are in an extremely difficult situation, simultaneously caring for two aging parents who can do little to care for themselves. My own situation is much simpler, as I’m only taking care of my wive. Fortunately, our schedules are mostly parallel, including sleep times.

    Do you think think it is coming to the point where you can no longer reasonably care for both parents continually? What are your options for caregiving changes to make before you burn out?

    I admire your loving heart and commitment to care for your parents.


    1. Thanks. All is good so far. Yes, there are difficult days/nights but there are still a lot more that are not… just days with difficult incidents. Having consistent respite care that will allow me to get away for a few hours each week will also help.


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