Sun downing Part I

Sundowning Series Part I

What Is Sundowning?

As the sun sets, most of us grow weary after our active day and are ready to relax and unwind. But for loved ones diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, this can be a time of increasing restlessness, confusion, and agitation. If early evenings stir up uncomfortable feelings of anxiety or aggression, this might be a sign of sundowning.

Sundowning is a symptom that affects a percentage of men and women with Alzheimer’s and dementia, though not all. And it can be exhausting not only for the individual experiencing those symptoms but also for his or her caretaker. Sundowning is marked by a disruption of one’s internal body clock or Circadian cycle, which some say could be sparked by a person’s diminishing ability to differentiate between night and day. These symptoms are most prominent in the middle stages of the disease.

A loved one struggling with sundowning might not cope as well after a particularly active day. Tasks seemingly easy during daylight might grow more challenging at night, and he or she might find it more difficult to understand you. Impulsive behaviors along with attempts to leave home are also commonly associated with sundowning.

Imagine if all of those new shadows across the darkening space started to feel confusing, making it more difficult to recognize objects that were familiar just hours ago during daylight. This can lead to visual hallucinations. And disoriented by delusions, your loved one might become fearful, aggressive – even demanding. Because they’re unable to acquire enough rest in the evening, they’re often exhausted the next day – further interrupting the natural sleep/wake cycle. As the disease progresses, sundown symptoms tend to diminish.

If your loved one has Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, be mindful of behavior shifts in the early evening along with mood swings, unusual pacing, or yelling. Manchester Place Care Homes provides compassionate around-the clock care for aging adults experiencing sundowning symptoms.

In Part II of our sundowning series, we’ll share methods of caring for and coping with sundowning.