What is Sundowning?
Sundowning is also known as “late day confusion”. Sometimes a person living with dementia may become more agitated, aggressive or confused in the late afternoon or early evening. This is often referred to as ‘sundowning’.
Your loved one is most likely to experience sundowning if they have mid to advanced stage dementia and has been found in Vascular, Front temporal and Lewy-body Dementia.
Here are a few tips to help you with Sundowning…
Your loved one might experience “sundowning” as the result of changes in their sleep-wake cycles. If it’s too dark the person may become agitated as seeing things becomes harder. However – if it’s too bright it may cause overstimulation.
Adjusting the light accordingly in their home might help reduce their symptoms.
Research has shown “light therapy” can reduce agitation and confusion in those living with dementia. Consider placing a full-spectrum fluorescent light about one meter away from your loved one for a couple of hours each morning. The Alzheimer’s Association suggests brightening the lights when your loved one feels confused or agitated.
Too much inactivity during the day can make it harder for your loved one to fall asleep at bedtime. To promote a good night’s sleep, help them stay active by going for a walk during the day. This might help improve and reduce their sundowning symptoms.
Stick to the same schedule every day to ensure you loved one feel more calm and collected. Try to avoid making changes to routines that work for you both. If you need to make changes, try to adjust their routine gradually and as little as possible.
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Avoid caffeine or alcohol especially in the evenings. Large meals in the evening can also increase their agitation and may keep them up at night.
Keep your loved one calm during the evening. Talk to them in a soothing voice or play them soft music to create a quiet and calm environment.
Look for patterns in their behaviour to identify when their symptoms get worse as each individual has different triggers for sundowning. Note behaviour in a notebook or use a smartphone to track.
Once you are aware of the triggers it will be easier to address the situations that promote agitation and confusion.
At Independent People Homecare, Sundowning syndrome can be exhausting, not just for your loved one but for you too. This where our Carers can help you support your loved on a short or long term basis. Then can help you take a break.