Caregiving Monday: 10 tips to dealing with sundowning

Sundowning gets everything turned around
Sundowning gets everything turned around as the sun goes down



If you have a loved one with dementia/Alzheimer’s you know that often sundowning is a common issue.

Sundowning is in the later afternoon and early evening, when the sun begins to set, and the individual becomes more agitates and frustrated.  Often s/he wants to go home, yells, increased hallucinations, begins undressing, has increased confusion, etc.


So how do you deal with sundowning?

  1. Turn the lights down and calm the loved one. Often turning on soft music will also help him/her to relax.

    Keeping a track of triggers and what calms agitation is a great idea
    Keeping a track of triggers and what calms agitation is a great idea
  2. On the reverse side, sometimes turning the lights on in the room being occupied helps the loved one.
  3. Hold your loved ones hand and gently talk with him/her. Take the time to reassure him/her.
  4. Take a walk—staying active is good for the body. Even if it is just a few steps or down the hall and back is good for your loved one.  If s/he can’t walk and has a wheel chair, put your loved one around in the chair for a change of scenery.
  5. Calming activities—find activities that are not stressful for your loved one and will keep him/her calm. Depending on the level of functioning, some activities such as reading and watching TV are stressful because they are difficult to follow.
  6. Eat a lighter dinner—larger meals may be heavier on the digestion system or have more caffeine and/or alcohol. Enjoy these foods at lunch and have a lighter meal or snack in the evening.
  7. Keep a daily journal—keep a journal of the daily activities and document triggers and behaviors that create agitation. By keeping track of this information you can identify the triggers and attempt to eliminate or change them.
  8. Limiting sleep during the day to short 20 minute catnaps—this helps the internal body clock to not become so confused
  9. Keep active—during the day keep your loved one active and develop more activities or outings for your loved one {depending on his/her ability}.
  10. Talk to a doctor—most importantly discuss the issue with his/her doctor. Medication{s} may be a factor or could be prescribed to help with agitation and confusion.

How do you deal with sundowning?

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