Do Dementia Symptoms Get Worse During Spring?

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Weather changes often cause significant alterations in the nucleus region of the brain in older adults living with mental health disorders. Depression, seasonal affective disorder, and schizophrenia often appear during the winter months. Researchers from Columbia University were determined to learn if seasons also play a role in altering dementia symptoms.

The Columbia University Study

A group of scientists from Columbia University gathered 3,353 older adults with dementia from Canada, France, and the United States. All underwent neurological and psychological testing to create baseline data. The researchers expected the seniors would demonstrate a higher likelihood of exhibiting cognitive impairment during the spring and winter. Testing continued during each season to note if the individuals demonstrated any cognitive and behavioral changes. After five years, the study’s results revealed that the seniors commonly exhibited more pronounced dementia symptoms during spring and winter. The findings proved valuable in developing methods for helping caregivers and medical staff prepare for the seasonal changes and make adjustments as needed. 

This information can be quite helpful for both family and professional caregivers who care for seniors with dementia. Even when families have the best intentions, caring for a senior loved one with dementia can be challenging. Fortunately, Home Care Assistance is here to help. We are a leading provider of dementia care. Mesa families can take advantage of our flexible and customizable care plans, and our caregivers always stay up to date on the latest developments in senior care.

Sundowner’s Syndrome and Seasons

As the winter months approach, the days become shorter, which means fewer daylight hours. For the majority of seniors, the change means nothing. However, the increase in dark hours causes issues for those with dementia. Symptoms begin appearing in the late afternoon hours as the sun begins setting. Seniors affected by dementia become more easily confused or irritable. The symptoms are also triggered due to not sleeping well at night, which leads to daytime fatigue. Some might consume too much caffeine. Poor lighting indoors may cause glare as the sun sets, combined with an increase in shadows. The symptoms also become more intense for seniors who have respiratory or urinary tract infections in addition to environmental factors. 

In the afternoon, caregivers may notice a wide range of increased symptoms. The signs include pacing and wandering. Seniors often become more restless and paranoid, which may lead to angry outbursts or violence. During these moments, caregivers must be aware their loved ones are at higher risk of personal injury secondary to wandering. If your loved one is able to make it outdoors unaccompanied, there’s a greater likelihood of falling or hypothermia due to not being dressed properly. 

No matter what time of year, a trained caregiver with experience in caring for seniors with dementia can be a fantastic resource for family members. Families looking for top-rated Mesa home care service providers can reach out to Home Care Assistance. From respite care to specialized Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care, there are many ways we can make life easier for seniors and their loved ones.

Caregiver Considerations

Helping a loved one exhibiting drastic cognitive and behavioral changes becomes more challenging. The ways caregivers interact with their loved ones during these times may involve many attempts at finding techniques that work well to help their loved ones stay calm. Before the sun sets, consider turning on as many lights in the home as possible to prevent glare and shadows. Make sure any appointments are made during earlier daylight hours. Allow your loved one to go to bed later to ensure he or she is able to fall asleep without being restless. Reduce noise levels, and don’t engage in stimulating activities a few hours before bedtime. Pleasant fragrances, soothing music, and essential oils can stimulate melatonin levels and help seniors with dementia relax.

If you’re caring for a loved one with dementia, these findings may help you manage his or her care more effectively. Caring for a senior loved one can be challenging for families who don’t have expertise or professional training in home care, but this challenge doesn’t have to be faced alone. Family caregivers can turn to Mesa Home Care Assistance for the help they need. We provide high-quality live-in and respite care as well as comprehensive Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care. Home Care Assistance can be your trusted partner in caregiving for your aging loved one. Call us today at (480) 699-4899 to learn about our high-quality in-home dementia care services.