Sundown syndrome—also called sundowning or sunsetting—is a behavior common in people with Alzheimer’s disease. It describes the episodes of confusion, anxiety, agitation, or disorientation that often occur at dusk and into the evening hours. The episodes may last a few hours or throughout the night, which is very draining not only on the caregiver, but on the person with Alzheimer’s disease as well.
While the exact reason why people with Alzheimer’s are more susceptible to sundowning is not known, there are ways to help ward off an episode:
· Schedule the day so that the more difficult tasks are done early in the day.
· Restrict sweets and drinks with caffeine to the morning hours and try serving a late afternoon snack or an early dinner.
· Keep the house or room well lit. Close the drapes before the sun goes down, so the person doesn’t watch it become dark outside. Even keep the room partially lit when going to bed, to reduce agitation that occurs when surroundings are dark or unfamiliar.
· Plan more active days. A person who rests most of the day is likely to be awake at night.
· Seek medical advice. Physical ailments, such as bladder or incontinence problems, could be making it difficult to sleep. The doctor may also be able to prescribe medication to help the person relax at night.
· Change sleeping arrangements. Allow the person to sleep in a different bedroom, in a favorite chair or wherever it’s most comfortable.
For more information on sundown syndrome, click here. Nighttime doesn’t need to be a time to dread. An experienced care partner you trust will allow you to rest easy, knowing your loved one is safe and secure.