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Celebrate the seasons of life

What Is the Sundown Effect?

Scientists and doctors are discovering more of the symptoms and nuances of Alzheimer’s disease every year. One of those symptoms that is receiving an increasing amount of attention is sudden mood changes, and erratic changes in behavior. The sundown effect, part of sundown syndrome, is the term used by Alzheimer’s disease researchers and senior living specialities for a particular constellation of symptoms, including but not limited to:

Fear responses
Sudden depressed mood
Intense rocking

The sundown effect owes its name to the fact that Alzheimer’s disease victims experience these symptoms at a specific time of the day. The effects, though potentially unpredictable as symptoms, will tend to come out in one form or another at a specific time of the day. These symptoms will tend to afflict those suffering from middle- or late-stage Alzheimer’s disease. The staff at Silverbell Homestead, an Assisted Living Home Asheville NC understand how these symptoms can manifest themselves and know how to respond accordingly. Senior living does not have to be a struggle.

Personable, Knowledgeable Professionals

Particular patients may experience a somewhat predictable constellation of symptoms. That is, one patient might be more prone to feeling fear and paranoia while another Alzheimer’s sufferer may suffer through confusion or irritability later in the day. Having a staff that knows how to properly assess and deal with these situations in a personable way is absolutely essential. Managing symptoms may include:

Approaching calmly
Light therapy
Planned activities throughout day
Soothing activities (e.g., board games or “light” television)
Avoid triggering activities at twilight
Nightlight to reduce agitation or risks of falls
Strict monitoring of diet
Possible supplementation with melatonin
Avoid exposure to blue light later in day

Sundown syndrome can be unsettling without qualified professionals there to help!

Understanding Sundowning in Seniors

Seniors suffering through Alzheimer’s will often display one symptom around twilight that caregivers know all too well. Shadowing is when a senior follows around caregivers or closely observes the caregiver’s behavior. In some cases, an imitation of speech and behavior may occur. In other instances, a senior experiencing sundowning may, conversely, lose his or her ability to properly communicate or get confused by abstractions in their mind that prove beyond their power to effectively comprehend or tease apart. Caregivers can help with all of these conceptual or communication difficulties.

Some seniors may take to wandering around and try to escape the care facility, so the need for an experienced yet empathetic caregiver could hardly be overstated.

What Causes Sundowning Symptoms?

The prevailing theory, although sundowning is not perfectly understood and the symptoms are still accumulating, is that stimulation builds up throughout the day and only later gets processed as overwhelming. Hormonal imbalances may make the expression of this overwhelmed response even more heightened, thereby exacerbating symptoms. Tiredness, stress, or excessive hunger can worsen symptoms. Stress or hormonal imbalances could also be harming the circadian rhythm of seniors, creating a vicious circle.

Fortunately, there are <a href=””>empathetic, experienced professionals</a> to help.

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