The evening hours can be challenging and stressful for caregivers who are supporting individuals with Sundowner’s syndrome. Sundowner’s syndrome is a disorder that frequently affects people with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Its name refers to the typical period when symptoms start to manifest; as the sun sets. Those affected show signs of increased restlessness and nervousness, confusion and disorientation, or agitation and aggressiveness.
Sundowner’s syndrome is particularly concerning since it can cause residents to experience delusions and hallucinations or start wandering about, which presents additional worries. The causes are unknown, although they are generally brought on by weariness, sleep cycle disturbance, pain, discomfort, boredom, or unfulfilled needs like thirst or food cravings.
It can be highly challenging for caregivers to handle because each resident’s symptoms may suddenly cease, change, or subside over time. Here are seven methods we use to manage wandering behavior in Pinellas County, FL senior home living.
24/7 Security Systems
24/7 safety measures enable retirement communities to provide wandering residents with independence and freedom while assuring their protection. These security systems can keep a close eye on and trace the precise position of wandering residents while retaining their right to privacy and freedom of movement. The sophisticated security devices allow particular doorways to be locked and armed with alarms for security purposes. These security systems can also automatically set off alerts and send warning messages to community personnel if a resident tries to exit the campus in a state of confusion.
Establish a Regular Daytime Routine
Proper daily routines can increase a resident’s sense of safety by limiting unexpected events and easing their uncertainties and worries. Offering physically and mentally-rewarding structured events early in the day, such as age-appropriate exercises and hands-on activities, is highly beneficial for purposeful sensory stimulation. Importantly, it’s paramount to urge them to spend time outdoors every day. Going for a stroll, basking in the sun, and breathing in the fresh air can assist them in regulating their body clock and releasing excess energy.
Reduce Stimuli in the Evenings
When close to sunset, it’s good to dim the lights, draw the window blinds, limit noises, remove any clutter and discourage drinking coffee or tea. We use calming touches and soothing aromas like lavender if needed.
Facilitate Quality Sleep
Insomnia and lethargy might make symptoms worse. Team members balance the residents’ activity plans with short resting intervals to make sure that every resident enjoys restful sleep.
Look for Habitual Behavior
Team members are trained to watch for habitual behavior in the areas where residents commonly wander and the times of day when they roam about the most. Also, we check whether the residents were engaged in a specific activity just before wandering to understand any external stimuli for the behavior.
Offer a Safe Space
To be fully prepared, we are sure to provide residents with well-lit, clutter-free lounge spaces where they can wander to or stop to rest. To reduce the likelihood of runaway residents, we take care to camouflage the exits and doorways of restricted sections as well.
Stay Calm and Gentle
Our team members greet wandering residents calmly with a soft voice. We validate their emotions and ask open-ended questions about how they are feeling to establish trust with them, and offer them assistance. We aim to divert their attention from wandering by leading them towards something positive like soothing music or relaxing activities like painting, arts and crafts, and clay modeling.