Sundowners Syndrome In The Dementia Patient

Home health care providers and family members often report their loved one who is dealing with dementia or Alzheimer's disease struggles more in the evening than they do throughout the rest of the day. This phenomenon is referred to as sundowners syndrome. Here is what you should know about this unique condition.

What Is Sundowners Syndrome?

Near the end of the day, usually in early evening, senior citizens with Alzheimer's disease or another dementia begin acting up. Similar to a toddler who is overtired and becomes temperamental, your loved one can become more difficult.

What Are The Symptoms Of Sundowners Syndrome?

The person may exhibit a wider range of emotions. They may become weepy and extra emotional. Conversely, they may become hostile and angry. Other symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • A propensity to wander
  • Pacing
  • Fidgety
  • Combative
  • Yelling
  • Aggression
  • Increased confusion
  • Hyperactivity
  • Delusions and hallucinations

When the person is hungry, overtired, sick, has an underlying infection, or their normal schedule is disrupted, the severity of sundowners syndrome symptoms intensify.  Unfamiliar places can also increase symptoms, so it is not uncommon for patients who move from home health care services to a care facility to seemingly do worse for a short time until they adjust to the new setting and routine.

Is There A Cure For Sundowners Syndrome?

No, there is no medication or other treatment for sundowners syndrome, but there are things that caregivers and home health care workers can do to make it easy for everyone.

  • Try to keep to a strict schedule. For example, serve dinner at the same time each evening. Don't let them get "hangry."
  • Schedule difficult activities earlier in the day. If bathing causes issues, schedule bathing in the morning rather than the evening.
  • Don't allow the person to doze during the day. They should remain active, so they are able to fall asleep earlier in the evening. Bedtime should be at the same time each night.
  • Create a peaceful environment in the evening. The person shouldn't watch upsetting or violent shows on television. Soft music playing in the background can help keep them calm and relaxed.
  • Don't serve any caffeine after noon each day and limit sugar consumption in the evening. If the person is accustomed to dessert after dinner, encourage fruit rather than cakes, pies, cookies, and ice cream.
  • Have comfort and distraction items handy. If they become agitated, give them a favorite blanket or stuffed animal and look through photographs or read them a story.

About Me

Tips for people who think They Have "Bad Health Luck"

While my parents took care to keep my home sanitary, feel my family nutritious meals, and encourage us all to get some healthy exercise outdoors, I always felt like I had "bad health luck." During my childhood, it felt like I was always coming down with one illness after another, and while thankfully, there were great treatments for most of them, I was envious of other children who seemed to never get sick. During my teenage years, my health improved, but as an adult, it seems like my "bad health luck" has returned. However, I try to find a "silver lining" in everything and, for me, that was the inspiration to learn a lot about diseases, disorders, and other health problems. To help others suffering from health problems, I decided to share the health knowledge I have accumulated over the years on a blog!