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Winter Woes: Alzheimer’s And ‘Sundowners Syndrome’

Winter Woes: Alzheimer’s and ‘Sundowners Syndrome’

If you have a loved one with Alzheimer’s, you’ll have noticed that their symptoms can vary from day to day, and even hour to hour. They may be coherent and relatively capable one day, then confused and moody the next. It’s often difficult to tell what – if anything – causes these changes.

One possible cause is ‘Sundowners Syndrome’. For some Alzheimer’s sufferers, the end of the day triggers an increase in symptoms – their disorientation and memory loss may worsen, and they may even experience agitation and anger.

Although research has yet to prove exactly why sundown has such an effect on some Alzheimer’s patients, they have shown that the shorter, darker days of winter make the problem even worse.

If you think your loved one may be a ‘sundowner’ there are some ways to help manage the issue:

Stick to a routine
A predictable daily routine lets your loved one know what to expect, which can help lessen feelings of confusion and disorientation.

Look at your lighting
Full spectrum light-therapy boxes have been shown to decrease the effects of sundowning and depression. Good lighting also makes it easier for your loved one to see and move around without stress.

Diet decisions
Look out for reactions to certain foods, and think about serving caffeinated drinks and sugary foods earlier in the day.

For more information and useful tips, read the entire Sundowners article.

Carol Pardue-Spears

Carol has worked in the healthcare field for more than forty years. As a Certified Nursing Assistant, she worked for El Camino Hospital in the cardiac unit, Los Gatos Community Hospital, The Women’s Cancer Center in Los Gatos and several home health and hospice agencies. Carol founded Family Matters in 2002 to fill a deficit she witnessed in high-quality, in-home services and care.

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