“It gets more difficult when night time comes…” is the common sentiment felt by the care providers and loved ones of seniors who have Alzheimer’s. Because of this, those who have seniors as their parents or grandparents are terribly familiar with the term “sundowning”. Basically, “sundowning” is what happens to a senior who exhibits Sundowner’s Syndrome.
What is Sundowner’s Syndrome?
Sundowner’s Syndrome is a set of symptoms felt by those who have dementia or Alzheimer’s usually during late afternoon or early evening. The reason for the onset of the symptoms during night time is because night time seems too dark and too quiet, thereby agitating the senior to feel extreme anxiety and agitated unease.
The result can be a dangerous elopement from the safety and security of their room.
What are the common symptoms of Sundowner’s Syndrome?
* Increased confusion: The senior tends to have difficulty in mobilizing himself as he will seem lost and clumsy. He will insist that he does not need your help when he really does.
* Disorientation: The senior will not know who he is, who you are, where he is and what day and time it is.
* Agitation & Anger: Because the senior does not have any inkling of an idea as to his current situation, he would project this frustration upon the care giver and loved one.
* Depression: Sometimes, though, instead of projecting it to others, the senior will vent his frustrations to himself, thereby making him feel miserable and inadequate.
* Paranoia: Remember this – your senior loved one does not have a clue as to what is happening around him. He does not know anything. So, he panics and accuses you of doing something bad to him.
* Restlessness: The senior may feel like he needs to do something, but he can’t really remember it, so he feels like he can’t stand still.
What are the treatment methods for Sundowner’s Syndrome?
Now that the symptoms have been enumerated, the next reasonable section is about care and treatment. However, traditional methods of treatment will not be the only focus – the simple but helpful technological products will be given a spotlight as well.
* Establish a routine that a senior can easily comply with. Now, it is not only vital that the activities in the routine are simple so that the senior can easily follow them. It is also important that the activities are done consistently.
* Administer medicine, as prescribed. The drug action of the medicine will not be effective if they are not administered correctly. Because of automatic medicine reminders, medicine of the senior can be given by the caregiver at the right dosage, right time and to the right patient.
* Follow a strict bedtime regimen, together with relaxing activities to promote peaceful sleep. The bedtime should be the same time every night. The caregiver can read a calming book to the senior, or if he is preoccupied with making the bed, the caregiver can have audio books be played to the senior.
* Regularly check for the safety of the senior at all times. Also, to provide a safe environment, a fall prevention & alarm system can be installed to the bed of the senior. To prevent sleep disruption of the senior, the alarm will only be heard by the caregiver.
* Purchase a bedside commode. Seniors with Sundowner’s Syndrome need to have a refreshing sleep. Nowadays, bedside commodes can be placed accordingly to promote comfort and sanitation while resting.
* Consider technology. Low tech and high tech options are available. For example, simple alarm clocks can signal the elderly and the caregiver as to when the activity should start and when the activity should stop. CreateAbility’s Independence Keeper can detect a series of activities that signal the profile of an elopement, and do any of the following: 1) talk to them via a digital picture frame, 2) turn on the sprinkler system in the front lawn, or 3) send an alert message to the nearest loved one or caregiver.