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The Mystery of Sundowner's Syndrome

By Sue McCormick Synergy Homecare
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While the cause and cure are unknown, there is hope.

Just like everyone is different, there are also different forms and symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease. One of the most difficult for loved ones to witness is Sundowner’s Syndrome. The name is a reflection of the confusion symptoms that appear or get worse during the transition between daylight and darkness, either early in the morning or late in the afternoon.

Your loved one may exhibit one or more of these symptoms: rapid mood swings, anger, crying, agitation, pacing, fear, depression, stubbornness, restlessness, and rocking.  The more severe symptoms of sundowners syndrome include:  hallucinations, hiding things, paranoia, violence, and wandering.  In the case of potential wandering, it may be a good idea to have your loved one wear an identification bracelet and install a top door lock to keep them safe during unsupervised sleeping hours.

The reason for the timeliness of this disease is a medical mystery. Some doctors believe it could be triggered by a days worth of sensory stimulation or caused by a change of hormones the night brings. Some even think it could be caused by the darkness and the feeling of not being able to see as well after the sun goes down.

While there is no cure for this, there are some ways it can be made more manageable:
 • Let light in
Light isn’t only assumed to help reduce the symptoms, but it is also proven to prevent depression. Keep rooms well lit and at bedtime, plug in a night light.
 • Control noise
As you start to wind down after a long day, keep the TV, radio and other noisy distractions at a low volume. You don’t want your loved one to end a day full of stimulation with more stimulation.
• Establish a routine
Routines may help your loved one feel safe and secure by reducing the level of anxiety he or she feels. Also, keep the busier activities to the morning/afternoon.
 • Watch the diet
Focus on feeding your loved one  “brain healthy” food, as suggested in the MIND diet. Have them avoid eating or drinking anything with too much caffeine or sugar – especially later in the day or evening.

Many professional caregivers are experienced with the range of symptoms associated with Sundowner’s Syndrome and are trained to deal with them appropriately.

If your loved one is suffering from Sundowner’s Syndrome, Call Us to learn more about how a Synergy caregiver looking after your loved one during those restless hours can make life easier for all involved.

Sue McCormick and Stacy Fotos are the owners of Synergy HomeCare North Atlanta and provide non-medical homecare to the seniors in the North Metro Atlanta area.  Their caregivers assist people of all ages with any activity of daily living and their goal is to keep your loved ones safe and in their home for as long as possible.  Call today for a free home assessment at 770-777-4781 or visit their website for more information. ■

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This month's issue

Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office Cpl. Page Cash focuses on building bridges between the teens in her community and law enforcement.  Read more page 8.

 

 

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