"What is Sundowning and How You Can Help

Sundowing effects elderly adults who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Sundowning is not a disease, it is a group of symptoms that occur in the late afternoon just before night. Symptoms of Sundowning include confusion, anxiety, aggression, pacing, wandering and ignoring directions.

Factors That Increase Sundowning
  • Your loved one is exhausted and tired by the end of the day, making their brain cells and synapses even less proficient.
  • Reduced lighting can increase shadows, causing confusion.
  • Waking up from a dream and not being able to distinguish between the waking and the dream state.
The Behaviors Associated with Sundowning
There are several behavioral changes noted with this aspect of Alzheimer’s. People can exhibit one or several of these characteristics:
  • Become increasingly agitated and irritable
  • Exhibit signs of confusion
  • Become disoriented in familiar places
  • Become suspicious of others to the point of accusing friends, family and strangers of theft or hiding specific items on purpose.
  • See or hear things that are not there.
Tips to Help Seniors with Sundowing

Stick to a Schedule – By having a set schedule, your senior loved one will having a better time remembering their routine, which can be very difficult while suffering from dementia.

Light Up their Life - Your loved one might experience sundowning as the result of changes in their circadian rhythms — their sleep-wake cycles. Adjusting the light in their home might help reduce their symptoms.

Encourage Activity – Seniors may have a hard time sleeping at night because they rest to much during the day. By keeping them active during the day, they will be more likely to sleep at night, reducing Sundowning.

Change-Up their Eating Habits – Eating a large dinner that contains caffeine or alcohol can increase their agitation and keep them up at night. Changing dinner to a well-balanced snack may help them feel better and rest easier.

Stress Less – Reduce the stress level of your seniors loved one by having them not do any task that is difficult or strenuous just before bed.

Provide Comfort and Familiarity -  For someone with dementia, the world can become a scary place. Comfort and familiarity can help them cope with this difficult time in life."

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