Community Blog

Sundowner's Syndrome: Confusion in the Twilght

By John Heyworth, Care Coordinator

Sundowners Syndrome,  Confusion in the Twilight
 
Have you noticed in your client or loved one with dementia, a change in attitude later in the day?  It may be extra confusion, sadness, agitation or fear just before dark.  This may mean they have that added extra problem of Sundowners Syndrome.  Not all inclusive, here are some of the behaviors and emotions of Sundowner's Syndrome:
  • Anger
  • Agitation and outbursts
  • Anxiety
  • Pacing
  • Fear
  • Depression
  • Stubbornness
  • Restlessness
  • Rocking
  • Hallucinations
  • Hiding things
  • Paranoia
  • Violence
  • Wandering or pacing
  • Crying
 
Whatever the causes of Sundowners are here are some of the ways for us as caregivers to be helpful in creating a better environment for the sundowner.
 
  • Approach the person in a calm manner. Don't yell, raise your voice, or touch them in an unexpected way.
  • Avoid arguing or asking for explanations to statements that don't make sense.
  • Draw the curtains so they cannot see the sky change from light to dark. When drawing the curtains, turn on inside lights to keep the environment light and calming.
  • Provide a peaceful setting. Guide the person to an area away from family activity and other distractions. Try to prevent excessive noise and commotion during sunset.
  • Plan more active days. A person who rests most of the day is likely to be awake at night. Discourage afternoon napping and plan activities, such as a walk, throughout the day.
  • Plan simple and soothing evening activities. Arts and crafts, and even pet therapy can have a calming effect.
  • Have a routine. Maintaining a routine tends to alleviate the severe anxiety experienced by those sundowning. Even simple tasks like putting on pajamas can be helpful triggers that the day is winding down.
  • Use music. Sometimes soothing music will help to calm and relax a person with Alzheimer's or dementia.
  • When the person becomes agitated or fearful, reassure them that everything is alright and everyone is safe.
  • Monitor their diet. Restrict sweets and caffeine consumption to the morning hours and serve dinner early.
Those that care for our clients watching for conditions, as far as we can observe from a non-medical viewpoint, can help in providing a good home environment at all times of the day.  Home Helpers Home Care does well at the front lines, documenting as we go, acting to call-our health care team as necessary before a medical condition gets any worse--in the twilight of their day and in the twilight of their life.