Sundown SyndromeSundown syndrome, also called “sundowning”, is characterized by increased restlessness and/or agitation beginning in the late afternoon or evening and often continuing throughout night. It can affect all kinds of people, and even animals, but it is especially prevalent in older people with dementia or Alzheimer’s.

What Causes Sundown Syndrome?

No one is entirely sure what causes sundown syndrome, but experts believe that the degeneration of brain cells associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s might disrupt the production and/or reception of hormones in our body telling us when we should be awake and when we should sleep. Other possible causes include fatigue, hunger and/or thirst, pain, depression, or even boredom.

Symptoms of Sundown Syndrome

If you have a loved one who has been diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s, you might want to keep a lookout for symptoms of sundown syndrome later in the day, especially as the sun starts to set and make the transition from day into night. Symptoms include increased agitation, pacing, and even yelling.

While it can be difficult to bear the brunt of what feels like personal attacks from your loved one, it’s important to understand the reasons behind why they might be acting that way. In many cases, people with dementia or Alzheimer’s tend to lash out when they are especially confused. Realizing you don’t remember where you are or what’s going on is a terrifying sensation, and it’s possible that your loved one might lash out verbally, or even physically, when feeling confused.

How to Cope with Sundown Syndrome

As difficult as it can be, especially when family members are involved, it’s important not to take it personally when your loved one with dementia lashes out at you. Remember that it’s less likely to be about you and more likely to be about something else they find confusing or upsetting and you just happened to be a convenient target for their agitation.

Remain calm and try to get to the root of what’s causing their confusion. Try to reassure them that everything is OK and to distract them from whatever it is that might be upsetting them. Keeping their favorite snack handy can be a great way to distract them, and if hunger is a trigger of their sundown syndrome, then you could be killing two birds with one stone by feeding them.

Other tips for coping with sundown syndrome include removing other triggers of anxiety and agitation. You’ll get a feel for what these triggers are for your loved one as their disease progresses, but some common ways to avoid or reduce the symptoms of sundown syndrome include reducing noise and/or clutter, and/or reducing the number of people in the room. While it might sound like fun to bring the whole family for a visit, the reality can be overwhelming for someone who doesn’t always recognize the people surrounding them, so working with other members of the family to make sure you all get a chance to visit with your loved one at different times can often prove most beneficial to everyone involved.

While caring for aging loved ones can be incredibly rewarding, it can also be stressful and overwhelming. That’s why our goal at Stillwater Senior Living is to provide your loved one with the best care possible so you can go about your life without having to worry about them, which means your visits can be spent on more quality time with your loved one. Reach out now if you have any other questions about how we can help your loved one age in place.

Here at Stillwater Senior Living, we treat our residents like family. Our apartments include studio, one bedroom, and two bedroom suites, and we are pet friendly. They are designed with security features, maximum accessibility, and include walk-out patois with a full range of amenities for the entire family. We are also excited to open our Memory Care Neighborhood in the Spring of 2020.

CONTACT US today for more information and a tour of our beautiful state-of-the-art community.

Cure for Alzheimer’s in 2020?A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is one of the scariest scenarios imaginable, not just because there are few things more frightening than losing our mental faculties, but also because there is currently no cure for the disease. But researchers have been hard at work for decades trying to find a cure, and recent discoveries could bring us a cure sooner than you might think.

Our Genes

The first factor that determines your likelihood of getting Alzheimer’s in the first place is your genes. Most people know that if they have a relative with Alzheimer’s, they’re significantly more likely to develop the disease themselves, so we know genes play a large role in determining who comes down with Alzheimer’s and when.

On the one hand, we have the presenillin 1 gene, and we know that people with a mutation in that gene are significantly more likely to develop early-onset Alzheimer’s, meaning they start to show early symptoms in their mid to late forties and have full-blown Alzheimer’s in their fifties.

On the other hand, we have the APOE gene, which is linked to regular, late-onset Alzheimer’s and has three different forms that are most commonly seen. Roughly three in four people have APOE3, about one in five people have APOE4, and only about one in ten have APOE2.

We already knew that people with an APOE4 gene were 3x to 4x more likely to develop Alzheimer’s compared to people who only have the APOE3 gene. On the other hand, if you have on APOE2 gene, you’re slightly less likely to develop Alzheimer’s compared to people with only APOE3 genes. But a mutation of the APOE4 gene has recently been discovered and it could change everything.

Harvard researchers have been studying a very large family in New Zealand with the presenillin 1 genetic mutation that predisposes them to early-onset Alzheimer’s. Many of them have, in fact, developed early-onset Alzheimer’s, but one woman didn’t show symptoms of Alzheimer’s until she was in her 70s. Although she had the presenillin 1 genetic mutation, she also had an unusual mutation in her APOE gene, which has been named APOE3Christchurch (APOE3ch) after the New Zealand city in which the mutation was discovered. Furthermore, this woman had two versions of this same mutation, meaning she inherited it from both her mother and her father, and researchers think it could be the key to her resistance to Alzheimer’s.

Our Proteins

In addition to our genes, another factor in developing Alzheimer’s has to do with a protein in the brain, called tau, which is responsible for destroying brain cells. Researchers think that tau builds up in the brain after amyloid protein forms plaque in the brain, but this woman in New Zealand has a relatively small amount of tau in her brain, despite the fact that her brain was full of abnormal amyloid plaques (even more so than most people with Alzheimer’s).

Researchers suspect that this woman’s APOE3ch mutation could be the key to the relatively small amounts of tau built up in her brain. This research is still in the preliminary stages, but so far, they have been able to create a special protein in the lab that mimics the effects of the APOE3ch mutation and reduce the uptake of tau in the brain.

We probably won’t see a definitive cure for Alzheimer’s in 2020, since researchers have to conduct experiments to make sure they can reproduce the results before they can put anything on the market, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Here at Stillwater Senior Living, we treat our residents like family. Our apartments include studio, one bedroom, and two bedroom suites, and we are pet friendly. They are designed with security features, maximum accessibility, and include walk-out patois with a full range of amenities for the entire family. We are also excited to open our Memory Care Neighborhood in the Spring of 2020.

CONTACT US today for more information and a tour of our beautiful state-of-the-art community.

relocate your aging parentsMoving is a stressful process even for the young and able bodied. No one likes to pick up their whole lives and move from a well-known home to a strange place, but those feelings of fear and discomfort tend to increase as we age, and can be compounded by confusion when suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s.

Although declining mental faculties are probably the reason you need to relocate your aging parents into assisted living, it can also make the move itself much more challenging for you and your parents. Here are some things you can do to make the process go more smoothly.

  • Communication

The key to successfully overcoming any challenge that involves working with other people is communication. This doesn’t mean you won’t disagree about what has to happen or how certain things need to be done, but by keeping the lines of communication open, you can avoid surprises and a certain amount of conflict. Even if your parents don’t like the idea of moving, it’s important to keep them involved in the process so they can maintain as much control as possible.

  • Decide on a Place

Keeping Step 1 in mind, it’s important for you and your parents to agree on a place together. Given all the factors that need to be considered, including cost, location, and level of care, it might not be possible for everyone to agree on what the best place for your parents is, but again, it’s important to get their input so you can reach as much of a consensus as possible.

  • Create a Plan

Once you’ve decided on a place and you have a move-in date, you need to plan out everything that needs to get done between now and that move-in date. When are you going to start packing? What are you packing and what are you putting in storage/giving away? If your parents have accumulated a lot of possessions over the years, you might want to give yourself extra time to go through it all and decide what’s worth keeping and what should be tossed. Set a packing date and stick to the plan. Even if your parents are resistant at first, laying out a plan and attacking the moving process one step at a time will make moving day much easier on both you and your parents.

  • Get Everyone Involved

The responsibility of taking care of aging parents often ends up falling on one or two children, even when there are several siblings in the family. In order to make sure you aren’t the only person responsible for moving your parents, get as many family members involved as possible. Not only will this help lighten the load, it’s also a great way to remind your parents how much everyone cares about them. Most people are afraid of getting put in assisted living and being forgotten by their friends and family, so getting everyone involved is one way to assure your parents that’s not going to happen.

  • Help Them Settle In

Once you’ve helped your parents unpack and arrange everything to their liking in their new home, be sure to visit them regularly, but not too often. Again, you want to let them know they won’t be forgotten, but you don’t want to smother them or become overbearing.

If you have any other questions about the move-in process, we’re happy to help.

Here at Stillwater Senior Living, we treat our residents like family. Our apartments include studio, one bedroom, and two bedroom suites, and we are pet friendly. They are designed with security features, maximum accessibility, and include walk-out patois with a full range of amenities for the entire family.

CONTACT US today for more information and a tour of our beautiful state-of-the-art community.

aging in placeThe term aging in place appears to be everywhere these days. Everyone is telling us how we can “age in place” and giving us tips and tools and technology to help us do so, but what does that really mean? Should we even want to age in place?

The Stats

While a lot of people talk about studies showing as many as 90% of older Americans want to live at home, according to a study conducted by AARP just last year, only about 76% of Americans aged 50 and older want to stay at home. The rest are looking forward to living in a community of people their own age who remember the politics and pop culture from decades ago.

Is the Push to “Age in Place” Ageism?

Our culture has long been obsessed with youth and beauty, and while there are certain advantages to having those things, life has much more to offer. One of the best parts of aging is the wisdom and experience that comes with age, so when people are constantly telling us to “age in place” it can feel a little like they’re telling us to give up all our hard-earned knowledge. Who wants that?

The Importance of Socializing

Everyone enjoys socializing with people their own age. As kids, we tend to congregate with other kids our age, and as we grow into adulthood, we seek out people who are going through the same stages of life we’re experiencing.

The same goes for older adults. As much as we love our kids and grandkids, they just can’t understand us on the same level as our peers. While it’s nice to have a helping hand around the house, and to spend time with our family, we also need to spend time with people who understand what we’re going through and who can reminisce with us about “the good old days”.

Socializing can be tough for older Americans who try to stay at home, especially if they live in an area where they’re largely isolated from other people their own age. There’s a reason assisted living communities talk so much about the activities they host to make sure their residents remain actively engaged in the social life of the community – not only is it healthier for them, it also makes their lives more fulfilling and enjoyable.

Talking to Your Loved One

We talk to people every day who have trouble convincing their loved one it’s time for assisted living because of the stigma surrounding assisted living, but much of that stigma is already starting to dissipate as older Americans and their families recognize the many blessings assisted living can provide. If you think your loved one might need assisted living, but they’re resistant to the idea, try pointing out all the benefits (to them, not just to you as their caregiver). If you haven’t talked to them about it in a while, bring it up again and see what they say because you might find that their attitude on the subject has completely changed, especially if they have friends who are living in an assisted living community and loving it!

If all else fails, bring them in for a tour. Aging in place can be done here! Once you tour our gorgeous community, you will be happy to age in place here! We’d be happy to schedule a visit at your earliest convenience.

Here at Stillwater Senior Living, we treat our residents like family. Our apartments include studio, one bedroom, and two bedroom suites, and we are pet friendly. They are designed with security features, maximum accessibility, and include walk-out patois with a full range of amenities for the entire family.

CONTACT US today for more information and a tour of our beautiful state-of-the-art community.