Innovative Program For Alzheimer's Patients With Sundowning Syndrome


Patients with sundowning syndrome often don't sleep through the night: image via alz.orgPatients with sundowning syndrome often don't sleep through the night: image via alz.orgIf you've had a loved one with advanced Alzheimer's disease, you probably know what sundowning syndrome is, even if you've never heard the term before. Alzheimer's patients with this syndrome either don't sleep at night or wake up after a short sleep and may create havoc, waking up caregivers and disturbing others in the home, possibly for hours. But a care center in New York City has an innovative program for night owl Alzheimer's patients, that lets them 'play,' while their caregivers sleep....

The 'overnight camp' for patients with sundowning syndrome begins at 7:00 p.m. at the Hebrew Home at Riverdale, an upper west-side neighborhood of New York City, and ends at 7:00 a.m.  For 12 hours, these adults can be swing dancing, singing, practising yoga positions, watching a movie, participating in aroma, music, touch, or aqua therapies, or creating tree ornaments in arts and crafts.  And while they 'party,' or engage in one-to-one therapy, their families and caregivers can sleep knowing that their loved ones are protected and cared for, even enjoying themselves.

At the Home, shades are kept closed so that day and night are not the issue.  Dr. Robert Abrams, a geriatric psychiatrist at the New York Presbyterian Hospital explained to the Associated Press that having programs available for sundowning syndrome sufferers is preferable to insisting that they go back to sleep. If patients want to go to sleep there are beds available at the Home, but most just take a short snooze between activities.

The non-sectarian overnight program is available to residents of all five Burroughs of New York City.  Meals, snacks, and even door-to-door transportation may be available depending on what services each patient needs.   For more information, visit the Hebrew Home at Riverdale.

sources: Associated Press via MedXpress, Hebrew Home at Riverdale