Wednesday, 27 Sep 2023

Six dementia signs that may become ‘more pronounced’ in the summer

What is dementia?

With temperatures already reaching record highs and days growing longer, the summer season is undoubtedly behind the corner.

While summertime is beloved by everyone who enjoys swimming and alfresco dining, it could also pose a difficult time for those with dementia. 

This season puts people with the condition at a greater risk of sundowning, which describes a pattern of increased confusion, agitation and restlessness that usually occurs in the late afternoon or evening hours.

“The dynamics of sundowning can be significantly influenced by environmental factors such as heat and longer days,” said Liban Saleh, co-founder and CEO at CareCompare.

He continued: “This is often because, during warmer days, our bodies can quickly become dehydrated. 

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“Dehydration is more than just feeling thirsty; it’s a physical state that can lead to confusion, lethargy, and even irritability. 

“Now imagine, for a moment, already having the cognitive difficulties that come with dementia, and then adding this extra layer of confusion caused by dehydration.”

Furthermore, longer days offer more daylight time for symptoms of sundowning to manifest and become “more pronounced”.

Fortunately, Joy Henshaw, Registered Operations Manager at Wellbeing Care, explained what signs to look for and what to do.

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According to the expert, dementia symptoms that can become worse during this time, include:

  • Pacing
  • Wandering
  • Paranoia
  • Repetition 
  • Agitation
  • Poor sleep.

The NHS recommends seeing a GP if you’re worried about yourself or someone who is showing signs of dementia.

What’s more, there are many interventions that can help existing dementia patients during this time.

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Henshaw said: “It’s important to keep the person in a cool and comfortable environment and ensure proper hydration, offering snacks throughout the day might be able to keep someone content between mealtimes if they are confused as to when their next meal may come. 

“Ice pops are a great way to increase hydration. 

“Relaxation therapy, soft music, emotional support and engaging activities might also help to try and distract a person from their environmental surroundings to reduce agitation in the summer months.”

The expert added that people with the condition should be monitored throughout the day so they don’t develop heat exhaustion or heatstroke.

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