Tonight at 12:12 am on 12-12-19, the full moon, a “cold” moon, will appear most full. With this visual shape of the moon, crimes will skyrocket, ERs will be jam-packed and Alzheimer’s patients will all be restless and experience sundowning, right? Experience says “Sure seems like it to me!”, but science is all over the map.
The internet has made “research” like what I shoot for here soooo much
easier harder because of how lazy we all tend to be. Take research on the effects of a full moon on an Alzheimer’s patient as an example. Much like the viral nature of fake news getting cited over and over, this topic seems to have been studied much more than it really has. Here are the first several articles I found in a cursory study on the topic. (I tried to limit the search somewhat): Link Link Link Link Link Link Link Link Link Link Link Link Link Link and finally this great link. Now read this interesting piece about the evolution of words and roots.
So, what do we do with all of this data? I mean, some in both the good moon and the bad moon camps are absolutely convincing. And the name “lunar” has the same root as “lunatic”, so it must be that the moon causes erratic behavior, right? I mean, the Greek equivalent word is the root from which we get the word “epilepsy”, so it must involve erratic mental problems, right? (Well, that was what was assumed until we figured out that epilepsy had nothing to do with the moon or mental illness.) Even the word dementia itself implies all sorts of misnomers tied to the demonic. Scientists still refer to those with dementia as “demented” or having a “demented mind” despite the obvious baggage with the term. Heck, Hollywood is probably more to blame than anything. It has been a trope for decades to bring out vampires and werewolves on full moons, as if somehow they were on vacation previously.
OK, Blog Boy, there are all sorts of twists and turns in the data and even the words. Should I worry about the full moon tonight as a trigger for bad times for our loved ones with dementia? My scientific-ish answer: Nahhh. I would recommend treating every day same. Love on your loved one. Promote good sleep patterns by closing the windows/shades at night. Don’t serve food right before bed. Limit caffeine several hours before bedtime. Limit distractions (phones, little LEDs, etc… can be very bright in the darkness) and take/offer Melatonin if it helps. Could there be a link between full moons and erratic behavior? Absolutely! We don’t know and science is all over the map on the topic. Many of the articles that proved the link point at two studies that are from very interesting sources…very. I have even written about a few myself.
However, this I do know. Patients pick up on non-verbal cues very well. If you are all stressed out about the lunar cycle, you may project your mood on your loved one and actually create something of a self-fulfilling prophesy. You cannot change the sun or the moon or the stars, so roll with it and do your best all days. In my experience with mom and the Sweet 17, there were some full moons that odd things happened, but there were waning moons and crescent moons with the same problem. Heck, I think eating an extra Moon Pie even caused one lady, who loved her sweets, to be a little sick at her stomach and I am sure I have seen them moon each other, whether on purpose or on accident, in all stages of the moon. Therefore I say mostly wholeheartedly:
“I love you to the moon and back, but please don’t stress about full moons. They will take care of themselves and there isn’t much you can do that will help whereas stressing may make it worse.”
<Unleashing sound of the frustrated readers with anecdotes of bad full moons from days of old…>
<Me shielding my fragile noggin from the stones>
Update: Mom had another good day last night. I wish she could have joined us at my son’s wonderful concert last night. You can see footage in my personal Facebook feed. 🙂 I look forward to visiting with mom tonight as we prepare for the full moon…by watching some Andy Griffith. Sigh… (I know, I know… it does seem like there is a link. regardless, don’t call om demented just because she has dementia. Pet peeve. It reminds me of my doctor calling me morbidly obese on my chart. Words hurt more than sticks or stones…regardless of the phase of the moon.