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

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

Seniors living with dementia or Alzheimer's disease are vulnerable to extra risks like wandering around New York City streets alone.During this time, many elderly New York City individuals can tend to feel confused, irritated, or angry, and memory loss can be common. At Alvita Home Care we work with our 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.

There are a couple of different activities or symptoms that 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 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 one may behave when they are suffering from sundowning. Some individuals may experience moody behaviour, be prone to shouting at others, aggressive behaviour, trouble sleeping at night, and a sense of anger or resentment that is directed towards someone either in the past or present. At Alvita Care we have a few different tips for helping both 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 symptoms of sundowning would be to establish 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 make sure our caregivers are sticking to a plan of care that will maximize a healthy diet for your loved one. Additionally, it is important to avoid caffeine and sugar later on in the day as it can cause problems and interrupt normal sleeping habits.

If possible reduce any noise that may be coming from items around your home such as the television, radio, or any telephones later on 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 be beneficial to your loved ones later on in the evening or if they wake up during the night time.

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 both loved ones and caregivers to keep an eye on patterns in one’s behaviour that may relate to Alzheimer’s, dementia, or sundowning. Each individual may have diverse symptoms but it is important to be aware of those so that help can be received right away. 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 you can always give us a call at 212-273-0490.
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