What can I do to help my mom from going to her dark side caused by Alzheimer's?

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My mother has dementia and Alzheimer's. She becomes combative or anxious in the late afternoon and thru the early evening. Sometimes she has nightmares. She is on an anti anxiety and anti depressant. Is there something caregivers can do to comfort her or keep her from going to that dark place?
She is living in an assisted living situation and is 87.

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Hi dkato37, use MUSIC!!! We use it all the time. I went thru a year of sundowners and mood swings with mom and finally got her on a low dose of depakote, she good now and sleeps 12 hours a night also. She is usually happy and giddy, but we have out tearful times too, sing! Right now we have christmas songs but then go back to elvis and willy nelson, shes good, loves the beat and gets her arms and legs going. Good luck!
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Thank you very much for your help. I'm finding that different forms of distraction helps for the moment and often, leaving her alone (and spying/watching from a distance so she doesn't harm herself) brings her back. Her doctor says dementia patients are often overwhelmed and even the simple tasks of watching tv and having a snack becomes multi-tasking for them.
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I found this site very informative:
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Sue 1950,
I believe my mom has developed OCD also. The ups and downs are so vicious, and the anxiety causes her more physical harm. She gets worked up over the littlest thing. I told her she can't open her bills because she gets anxious. Any disappointment becomes major. I'm in damage control mode now.
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We learned over a long period of trial and error that certain foods helped trigger the behavior. We put my mom on an all natural diet that eliminated sugar and preservatives. Through diet and appropriate exercise we were able to help her feel more in control. The diet helped her and as a result made it easier to hire and keep caregivers.
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I feel so sorry for you. My mother is exactly the same. The only thing that seems to calm her down is if we stroke her hair and hold her hand. She has developed Obsessive Compulsive disorder - she puts everything away and forgets where it is! and also gets very nasty with myself and 2 daughters. We are now looking round for a Residential Care Home for her - which makes me feel so guilty.
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My mom went through the same thing - referred to as "Sundowners" because it seems to happen later in the day. When I had her here with me, I would keep lots of lights on thinking it would at least put it off for a while but I'm sorry to say I don't think it really helped very much.

Because my mother improved greatly after taking her off some of her medications, I have come to believe that a lot of medications that are supposed to be helping their situations actually cause more problems. Use their "Drug Interactions Checker" to find out if some of your mother's medications are not mixing well and also check with her doctor to see if there are some medications that can cause the anxiousness. I'm a believer in removing medications when possible, rather than adding new ones all the time.

I'll say a prayer that things will improve for you and your mom!! God Bless!
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