For seniors who suffer from Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, when the sun goes down, this can be a time of increased memory loss, confusion, anger, and agitation.

This change in behavior is called sundown Syndrome, sundowners Syndrome, or sundowning. the experts are not sure what triggers this. Here at Loving Assisted Living, we are here to help you and explain sundowning.

What Is Sundown Syndrome?

Sundown Syndrome is a behavior that seniors get at sundown, that has agitation, confusion, aggression, wandering, and restlessness.

This affects people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia It can also affect seniors that are recovering from surgery in the hospital and can experience sundown syndrome.

Sundown Syndrome
Dealing With Sundown Syndrome

What Are The Early Signs Of Sundowning?

The symptoms of sundowning are not obvious and can be easily missed. Some of the most typical signs of sundown syndrome may include:

  • Rapid mood changes
  • Anxiety or fear
  • Agitation, restlessness, or pacing
  • Sadness
  • Anger
  • Stubbornness
  • Shadowing caregivers or others
  • Repeating questions and interrupting
  • Alcohol

Sometimes the symptoms of sundowning can be even more severe, and they can be the following:

  • Hallucinating
  • Hiding things
  • Feeling paranoid
  • Acting violently
  • Wandering

What Triggers Sundowning Syndrome?

It is not known what triggers sundowning syndrome but here are some things that set it off.

  • End-of-day activity
    Activity toward the end of the day may lead to anxiety and confusion.
  • Fatigue
    End-of-day exhaustion may also be a contributor.
  • Low light
    As the sun goes down, the quality of available light may diminish and shadows may increase. This may increase confusion and agitation.
  • Internal imbalance
    Hormonal imbalances or possible disruptions in the internal biological clock.
  • Winter
    In some cases, the onset of winter’s shorter days amplifies sundowning.
  • Infection. A urinary tract infection (UTI) may cause symptoms similar to those of sundowning.

Can medication cause sundowning?

Some over-the-counter and prescription drugs can cause behavior changes in people with dementia. Some medication for incontinence, depression, or insomnia may cause dementia.

If your loved one is showing signs of sundowning, it’s a good idea to discuss their medications with a doctor, to discuss the side effects on them.

How To Manage Sundowning

There are different treatments for sundowning, there is not one that works for everyone, here are some remedies that can help with Sundown Syndrome.

  • Establishing a routine
    Routines can help loved ones feel safe by minimizing surprises. The more routines the better, when to eat, when to bath, this can eliminate confusion. Minimize the events per day, do not overwhelm them.
  • Monitoring diet
  • Avoid caffeine and large amounts of sugar. Check to see if certain food triggers it. Avoid alcohol.
  • Controlling noise Noisy activities should be avoided or kept away from your loved one’s bedroom as much as possible. Instead, try playing soft, calming sounds or songs.
  • Letting light in
    Lightboxes with full-spectrum lights (light therapy) have been found to minimize the effects of sundowning, dementia, and depression.  Night-lights can also reduce stress if your loved one needs to get up in the middle of the night.

Sundown Syndrome And Medications

There is limited information about the effectiveness of medication in easing sundowning symptoms. Some medications might increase dizziness, and these should definitely be avoided.

Sundown syndrome is not something your loved one can control, but you can slow down dementia. They’re not becoming agitated, angry, or afraid on purpose.

If your loved one is experiencing sundown syndrome:

  • Remain calm and avoid arguing. Listen to their feelings and let them know you’re here for them.
  • Let them know they’re safe and everything is OK, and improve their mood.
  • Listening to soothing music, having something to eat, or going for a walk.

Contact us if you are interested in assisted living, we are here to help you and your loved one live the life that they deserve, and we will support them through their Sundown Syndrome.

Here is some more information on Sundown Syndrome for you.

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