Sundowner's Syndrome

March 31, 2015

Sundowner’s Syndrome is not uncommon among The Vicarage population.  Challenges presented by increased anxiety and confusion later in the day occur daily.  The  “Top Ways to Ease Sundowning” from the article are excellent suggestions for coping with these challenges.  What follows are examples of how The Vicarage utilizes these “Top Ways.”

  1. The Vicarage works hard to regulate sleep among its population. When residents move to The Vicarage, unregulated sleep patterns are not unusual. With staff supporting residents in their daily routine, our ability to keep folks stimulated throughout the day works to promote a better night’s rest.
  2. The Vicarage prides itself on its gorgeous setting, offering meal and activity time in a glassed space, overlooking the beautiful ocean. Natural light floods this space throughout the day, providing residents plenty of light and positive energy. There is also a front foyer space, which faces south, and invites plenty of warm sunshine during the coldest of months. The Vicarage pets can often be found lying in the warmth of this room. The daily Vicarage experience incorporates music.  Musical exposure ranges from a simple radio/ CD player used to play residents’ favorite music to performers offering various musical styles, including classical, country and jazz.
  3. The Vicarage stands out in its unique approach to “wandering” by honoring it instead of viewing it as a behavioral issue. The Vicarage encourages outdoor activity. There are no “locked doors” at The Vicarage, only a secure environment created through motion detectors and a superior staff to resident ratio of 1 to 4 . The capacity to exit through a door into the natural world are priorities in the daily schedule.  By accessing the natural world, The Vicarage encourages residents to engage with nature through gardening, playing with pets, and even photography. This unique approach reduces the effects of sundowning and may eliminate the anxiety that causes it.
  4. In the event that a resident’s Sundowning Syndrome cannot be controlled through the above mentioned approaches, The Vicarage may consider pharmacological choices. The Vicarage physician oversees such treatment. Medication alternatives are only used when a resident’s psychological, emotional and/or physical health is jeopardized by the Sundowning behaviors.  More often than not, however, alternatives outside pharmacology control the severity of the Sundowning Syndrome.

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Johanna Wigg, PhD

Johanna provides professional counseling to families in transition. She meets with families and their loved ones regularly. She lives at The Vicarage and works hands on with each resident, giving her a thorough understanding of each resident’s needs. She does regular assessments on each resident to ensure that they continue to receive the personalized care they deserve and need.

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