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What is Sundowner’s Syndrome?

May 2, 2019
Senior Health

Up to 66% of older adults with mid-to-late stage Alzheiner’s or other forms of dementia have a set of neuropsychiatric symptoms that we call Sundown Syndrome. These symptoms include repeated walking during the night and wandering, which can be very dangerous for people with dementia.

An old woman putting a puzzle together.

It can get stressful as a caretaker to deal with the symptoms and give your loved one the care they need, and you might want to look in to local memory care to see if you can get some help. Today we’re going to talk about what sundowner’s syndrome is and what that means for you and your loved one.

What is Sundowner’s Syndrome?

Sundowner’s syndrome is, as aforementioned, a set of neuropsychiatric symptoms that occurs in the mid-to-late stages of Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. These symptoms typically occur at night, and more often during the winter and fall months. Symptoms may include fear, anxiety and agitation, noticeable mood swings and aggressive behavior, hallucinations and delusional thinking, and disorientation, wandering and pacing.

Can You Reduce the Symptoms?

All patients are different. You can reduce the symptoms and make them feel more comfortable, but the process will be trial and error until you find how you can calm down your loved one with sundownwer’s.

Some people with sundowner’s syndrome hit a point in a long day where they lose the ability to control their frustration and anxiety that comes along with the disease, and to alleviate this kind of fatigue let them sleep for a little bit and see if it wears off. Making a room brighter increases environmental stimuli for your loved one, which is important for those with dementia and Alzheimer’s, to keep them mentally active.

Another way to relieve symptoms is just to let certain things be. Arguing or reasoning with someone suffering from sundowner’s will make them more agitated, which will not end in well. Try to give them something safe to do to act as a sort of distraction from the frustrating situation at hand. And don’t forget to validate and reassure your loved one. Support them so that they know they’re not alone, and help comfort them in stressful situations. Let them know that they are being heard and loved.

What Does That Mean for Us?

Diagnosing sundowner’s is based solely on the presentation of the symptoms, so try to document the behavior and note any recurring patterns. Keep track of the times things happen and when the syndrome gets worse. Also keep note if the symptoms worsen after a meal or when medication is wearing off, and what events preceded an incident.

Call Kenwood Care

It can be very stressful to deal with sundowner’s syndrome alone. Kenwood Care provides memory care in Maryland through top-rated Alzheimer’s and dementia patients that can help you and your loved one cope with the symptoms of sundowner’s syndrome. Call us today to find out more about our services and how we can help your family.

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