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Need to Know

Adjusting to Alzheimer’s, Dementia & Sundowner’s Syndrome

For many elderly New Yorkers, especially those struggling with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, Sundowner’s Syndrome can be a hard adjustment.

During this time, many elderly individuals can tend to feel confused, irritated, or angry, and memory loss can be common. At Alvita Care, we work with our home caregivers to be aware of the signs and symptoms of sundowning and to help your loved ones cope during this difficult period of the day. We understand that family members can feel troubled and tired and that helping your loved one struggle with this disease may be painful, and we want to help.

A couple of different activities or symptoms can trigger your loved one to feel increased symptoms related to sundowning. These include too much activity at the end of the day, fatigue, low lighting, an imbalance internally, and even due to shorter days in the wintertime. While these triggers vary between individuals, we encourage both our home caregivers at Alvita and their loved ones to help manage them as best as possible.

Additionally, there are a few different ways in which your loved ones may behave when they are suffering from sundowning. Some individuals may experience moody behavior, be prone to shouting at others, have aggressive behavior, have trouble sleeping at night, and have a sense of anger or resentment that is directed towards someone either in the past or present. At Alvita Care, we have a few tips for helping yourself, and your loved one manage symptoms of sundowning. We encourage you to try some of these out, and if they do not seem to alleviate the situation, please contact your doctor.

One of the first steps individuals can use to help manage sundowning symptoms is establishing a routine.

Establishing a routine can help eliminate any surprises and ensure that individuals feel safe. A lack of routine can cause confusion, anxiety, and an inability to handle daily activities. Vigorous activities should be scheduled in the morning, and if possible, there should be a limit on the number of large activities that are completed in a day.

Ensuring your loved one’s diet is properly managed can also help reduce issues related to sundowning. At Alvita Care, we can ensure our caregivers are sticking to a plan of care that will maximize a healthy diet for your loved ones. Additionally, avoiding caffeine and sugar later in the day is important as it can cause problems and interrupt normal sleeping habits.

If possible, reduce any noise coming from items around your home, such as the television, radio, or any telephones later in the day. Additionally, it can be helpful for visitors to come earlier in the morning to help establish a routine, as we mentioned earlier. If you do have to participate in an activity that may be nosier, try to do as far away from your loved one during the hours that they may be trying to sleep or wind down. While noise is important, light can have a large effect as well. Light therapy is becoming a practice that is more well known in order to minimize the effects of sundowning. Purchasing a night light or another well-lit light that is not too distracting can also benefit your loved ones later in the evening or if they wake up during the nighttime.

Finally, the use of medication or supplements may be useful. We encourage you to consult with your loved one’s doctor or physician regarding medications that may be right for them. Additionally, the use of herbs and vitamins such as Ginkgo Biloba, St. John’s Wort, Vitamin E, or Melatonin may be beneficial.

At Alvita Care, we encourage loved ones and home caregivers to keep an eye on patterns in one’s behavior that may relate to Alzheimer’s, dementia, or sundowning. Each individual may have diverse symptoms, but it is important to be aware of them so that help can be received immediately. We encourage those with additional questions on Alzheimer’s disease or dementia to read about our approach to Memory Care. Additionally, if you have more questions about our home care services, you can always give us a call at 212-273-0490.

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