Sundowner’s Syndrome, or sundowning, is common in mid- and late-stage dementia patients. As implied by its name, seniors can get particularly confused, agitated and/or distressed as the sun starts to set. In this article, we help you understand exactly what this syndrome entails and how you can manage the symptoms in your loved one.
Understanding Sundowner’s Syndrome
It’s important to understand that Sundowner’s Syndrome is not a condition on its own. Typically experienced by dementia patients as their condition advances, the increased confusion and agitation they experience can frustrate both patient and caregiver.
While we don’t know exactly what causes Sundowner’s Syndrome, some possibilities include:
- After all the sensory stimulation they have received in the day, seniors tend to be more overwhelmed by the time evening rolls around.
- As it gets darker, changes in lighting can create an environmental trigger for hallucinations, delusions and paranoia.
- Fatigue from all the activities they have completed in the day causes patients to act out their frustration.
Common symptoms of Sundowner’s Syndrome include:
- Emotional outbursts
- Feelings of depression
- … and more
Every dementia patient is different and will display a unique combination of the above symptoms as well as some that are not listed above. Understand what is common for your loved one and work on reducing the distress caused by those symptoms.
Managing Sundowner’s Syndrome
Very often, logic is not the way to approach the confusion and agitation experienced by a dementia patient. Instead, try these approaches:
- Develop a daily routine that gives your loved one clear indicators when the day is starting to wind down. The predictability can help to keep them calm.
- Reduce and remove any environmental triggers for delusions and hallucinations, such as poor lighting casting shadows behind corners.
- Avoid giving your loved one too much sugar and/or caffeine in the evening. Restrict these foods and beverages to the daytime.
- Introduce soothing activities to keep your loved one distracted and occupied in the evening, such as listening to music or watching a favorite show.
- Instead of getting agitated yourself or trying to reason with your loved one through logic, validate their experience. Help them understand that they are safe and you are there to help them.
Consider Residential Memory Care for Your Loved One with Dementia
Residential memory care can be a lifesaver when you are struggling to get your loved one the care they need from home. Our SHINE Memory Care program at Discovery Commons At Bradenton makes use of the latest scientific-based approaches to senior care. Participation in daily activities of living is encouraged, and your loved one will receive the customized care and attention they need from our compassionate and well-trained team members. Dementia care actively seeks to improve the quality of life of residents through meaningful activities, person-centered care, superior communication, and more. Please contact us today for any queries or to schedule a tour of our community.