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Sundowners, Dementia, and Alzheimer’s – What’s the Difference?


When a loved one begins having memory issues, it can be scary.  How do you know if it’s just part of aging or if something more serious is going on?  Sundowners, dementia, and Alzheimer’s may all come to mind as you try to figure out what is happening with your loved one.  Many people interchange the three words, thinking they are just different words for the same memory issue; however, there are differences.

Victoria Landing offers a memory care community to those facing memory issues.  Those with memory issues can continue to live a full and happy life in a caring community with others facing the same challenges and a highly-trained, compassionate staff to help them navigate their days.

When you notice that your loved one is having problems with their memory, it’s time to take action.  Doctors appointments and researching senior living communities that offer memory care may become your new normal.  Victoria Landing wants to reassure you that your loved one can still live a bountiful life.  Understanding exactly what memory challenge your loved one is facing can help prepare you for the days ahead, so that is what we will address in this article.

What Is Sundowner’s?

Sundowner’s got its name from the fact that it presents in late afternoon to early evening.  While an individual may seem rather functional and “on top of things” during the day, a marked difference in memory and behavior may occur as the latter part of the day arrives.  Sundowner’s mainly occurs in those with dementia.  The symptoms can vary by person and in severity which has made it difficult for doctors to agree on a specific definition for Sundowner’s.  Some common symptoms include anxiety, agitation, aggression, yelling, wandering, etc.   If your loved one is exhibiting these behaviors, you may choose to find a senior living community with memory care so they have a safe environment throughout the evening and overnight.  If your loved one is currently living alone, it may no longer be safe unless someone can stay with them during the latter part of the day when they may struggle.

What Is Dementia?

Dementia is a syndrome characterized by progressive cognitive decline.  Several memory disorders fall under the heading of “dementia.” Changes in the person’s brain, such as a change in cerebral metabolism (just one example) cause dementia.  Dementia presents differently than Sundowner’s.  There may be some similar behavior changes, and a person may lose their ability to recognize objects or remember how to do tasks.  “The six cognitive domains affected by dementia are learning and memory, language, complex attention, executive function, perceptual-motor, and social cognition.”  Dementia can and should be diagnosed by a physician.  Dementia is a general term to describe a set of symptoms.  There are different types of dementia, and they can be caused by different conditions.

What Is Alzheimer’s?

Alzheimer’s is a brain disease that causes dementia symptoms. The terms dementia and Alzheimer’s are often used interchangeably, but not all types of dementia are Alzheimer’s.  If a loved one is having trouble remembering new information, you should schedule an appointment with their doctor.  Because Alzheimer’s typically attacks the part of the brain where learning occurs, this is one of the first signs a person with Alzheimer’s may exhibit.  They may eventually be referred to a neurologist for diagnosis.  Alzheimer’s does account for 60-80% of dementia cases, so it is easy to understand why the two terms are often confused.  It may seem confusing that a disease that affects memory function becomes fatal.  This is because it doesn’t ONLY attack the parts of the brain associated with learning and memory.  The disease will spread.  When the brain no longer tells the body how to eat or breathe or perform functions that sustain life, a person will succumb to Alzheimer’s.

The Boardwalk at Victoria Landing – Outstanding Memory Care

If your loved one has Sundowner’s, dementia, or Alzheimer’s and it is time for them to move into an assisted living facility, it is essential that you find one that offers memory care.  Victoria Landing has a memory care community called The Boardwalk.  The Boardwalk offers private apartments, activities, nurses, and 24/7 care.  Your loved one will receive assistance for daily living activities, as well as medication management.  We provide three chef-prepared meals each day.  We offer planned activities throughout the day, 7 days per week.  From puzzles to gardening to crafts, there is sure to be something your loved one enjoys.  We offer art, music, and games.  Your loved one can’t get bored if they try!  And all of this is done with other memory care patients under the compassionate care of our staff. 


If your loved one is experiencing memory issues, diagnosis and medical care are important.  Whether it’s Sundowner’s, Alzheimer’s, or another type of dementia, Victoria Landing is a great place for your loved one to call home.  While each of these memory disorders presents uniquely, our highly trained staff is available 24/7 to meet your loved one’s unique needs with patience and compassion.  They can live a full life at The Boardwalk at Victoria Landing.  Please contact us today to ask any questions you may have or to schedule a tour.

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