As our loved ones age, they may begin to show symptoms that can be challenging to understand and manage. One such condition, Sundowner’s syndrome, is prevalent among individuals with mid-to-late-stage Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. Up to 1 in 5 older adults with this type of dementia exhibit the unsettling – and potentially dangerous – symptoms of Sundowner’s Syndrome, which can include repeated wandering at night.
Understanding Sundowner’s Syndrome
Sundowner’s syndrome comprises a set of neuropsychiatric symptoms that most often manifest during the evening hours. This may be particularly noticeable as the year draws on and the seasons begin to change. Particularly in the fall and winter months, shorter days and longer nights may cause symptoms to intensify.
These symptoms may vary, but often include:
- A heightened sense of unease or worry.
- An irrational or exaggerated sense of impending doom or danger.
- Increased restlessness or nervous activity.
- Rapid changes from one emotional state to another.
- Displays of anger, frustration, or aggression that might be out of character.
- Hallucinations and sensing things that aren’t there.
- Delusional thoughts and strongly held false beliefs or misconceptions.
- Confusion and disorientation about time, place, or identity.
- Aimless walking, pacing, or wandering, as well as repetitive movement patterns.
Alleviating the Symptoms of Sundowner’s Syndrome
While the onset of symptoms may also differ from person to person, there are several recommended strategies that attentive assisted living staff employ to help manage and mitigate the effects:
- A conducive atmosphere: Making rooms brighter helps to provide sufficient environmental stimuli, which can help keep an individual with Sundowner’s syndrome mentally engaged.
- A predictable schedule: From mealtime to nap time, routine is key. Alzheimer’s patients and those with Sundowner’s syndrome are highly sensitive to unfamiliarity. By maintaining consistent daily rituals in a familiar location, assisted living homes like Kenwood Care help to minimize stress-induced confusion and anger. Change is introduced gradually. Main meals are served early, with light snacks as evening approaches, and medications are administered exactly as prescribed. Regular, routine periods of rest during the day combats fatigue while eliminating a sense of the unfamiliar.
- A safe environment: It’s critical not to argue or reason with someone undergoing Sundowner’s symptoms as it can exacerbate their distress. Quality assisted living homes like Kenwood Care are staffed with compassionate caregivers who specialize in memory-related conditions and provide a familiar and reassuring presence.
- A chance to move: Physical activity and mental stimulation play a pivotal role in managing the symptoms of Sundowner’s syndrome. That’s why Kenwood Care homes are equipped with specialized activity coordinators who ensure that residents are engaged and active during the day, promoting better sleep cycles at night.
- A comprehensive record: Keeping track of behavioral patterns can assist in identifying triggers and managing symptoms more effectively. The Kenwood Care staff is sure to document all behavior, including notable changes, and relays that information to our families and medical providers.
Kenwood Care’s Commitment to Excellence in Memory Care
The challenge with Sundowner’s syndrome is its unpredictability and the strain it places on families. Thankfully, Kenwood Care Assisted Living has forged strong partnerships with Howard County’s finest memory care specialists and physicians. This collaboration ensures that our residents receive top-tier medical attention, fostering an environment of safety and support.
Dealing with Sundowner’s syndrome can be stressful. That’s why Kenwood Care is here to provide unmatched memory care in Maryland. Through our dedicated services, we promise to stand with you and your loved ones in navigating this journey.