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Diving Into Sundown Syndrome: How to Support Your Loved Ones with Dementia



Sundown syndrome, also known as sundowning, is a term used to describe a range of behaviors that commonly occur in individuals with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease during the late afternoon or early evening hours. These behaviors can include agitation, confusion, anxiety, restlessness, and aggression. While the exact cause of sundown syndrome is not fully understood, several factors may contribute to its onset, including disruptions in the sleep-wake cycle, sensory overload, hormonal imbalances, and environmental changes.  

 

Individuals who are affected by sundown syndrome often experience worsening symptoms as the day progresses, typically peaking in the late afternoon or early evening. This phenomenon can be distressing for the individual and their caregivers, as it can lead to increased stress and difficulty managing the person’s care.  

 

It’s important to note that sundown syndrome is a condition affecting individuals with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. While it primarily affects older adults, it can also occur in younger individuals with cognitive impairments.  

 

Several strategies can aid in alleviating the symptoms of sundown syndrome and improve the overall well-being of affected individuals: 

 

Establishing A Routine 

 

Maintaining a consistent daily schedule can aid in regulating the sleep-wake cycle and reduce feelings of disorientation and confusion. This includes regular meal times, bedtime routines, and activities throughout the day.  

 

Creating a Calm Environment 

 

Minimizing noise, clutter, and other sensory stimuli in the environment can reduce agitation and anxiety. Creating a calming atmosphere with soft lighting, soothing music, and familiar objects can also be beneficial.  

 

Encouraging Physical Activity 

 

Engaging in regular physical activity during the day can reduce restlessness and promote better sleep at night. Activities such as walking, gardening, and gentle exercises tailored to the individual’s abilities can be helpful.  

 

Limiting Stimulants 

 

Avoiding caffeine and other stimulants in the afternoon and evening hours can aid in preventing sleep disturbances and reduce agitation. Instead, opt for decaffeinated beverages and soothing herbal teas.  

 

Promoting Relaxation Technique 

 

Teaching relaxation techniques such as deep breathing exercises, guided imagery, and gentle stretching can help individuals cope with stress and anxiety during sundowning episodes.  

 

Medication Management 

 

In some cases, medications may be prescribed to assist in managing the symptoms of sundown syndrome, particularly if non-pharmacological interventions are ineffective. However, working closely with a healthcare professional to determine the most appropriate treatment approach and monitor for potential side effects is essential.   

 

Overall, managing sundown syndrome requires a holistic approach that addresses the underlying factors contributing to the behavior changes observed in affected individuals. By implementing strategies to promote a calm and structured environment, provide meaningful activities, and support overall well-being, caregivers can aid in promoting the quality of life for individuals with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease experiencing sundowning episodes.  

 

  

Unified Pledge is a leading provider of in-home senior care solutions in Palm Beach County and Broward County. We offer free, no-obligation in-home consultations, cost estimates, and insurance policy benefit reviews   

   

We also provide other types of home care services such as in-home nurse care, long-term care, and physical therapy.   

   

Give us a call at 561-800-4581 so we can help you create a custom home care solution for yourself or your loved one.   

  

 

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