Big behavior changes in dementia patients often come late in the day and the early evening as the sun goes down, and is called sundown syndrome or sundowning. The symptoms can range from becoming agitated, anxious, and upset to confused, demanding, or disoriented.
Sundown syndrome not only affects those with dementia but those who care for them. At All Care At Home, we provide skilled and empathetic senior services to assist those with dementia navigate life with sundown syndrome. Learn more about sundown syndrome and help those around you better manage it.
Home Care Assistance For Sundown Syndrome
For those suffering from dementia, navigating everyday life becomes a chore as they become increasingly disoriented and their cognitive abilities rapidly decline. Compounding on the typical daily effects of dementia is a condition called sundown syndrome, where mood swings are common. While medical professionals have theories on why this happens, there is not one definitive answer to explain it. Many attribute sundown syndrome to the dimming and darkening light that may subconsciously tap into our fears of being unsafe and insecure.
Ways to Better Manage Sundown Syndrome
If you notice your senior becoming agitated and asking questions like, “Is it time to go,” “what is the plan,” or “what should I be doing” along with yelling or pacing, it’s likely they are experiencing sundown syndrome. Below are a variety of techniques you can use on a regular basis to better assist those with sundown syndrome, and they include:
Creating a consistent routine.
When you create a routine for those with dementia to follow, especially in the evening, this can help them feel more safe and secure. This establishes a natural rhythm that can be relied upon. Oppositely, without a routine, they can become more anxious and confused with the unpredictability of their day.
Use light to your advantage.
It’s important to surround your senior in light and help them get as much natural sunlight as possible. When the days get shorter or when the evening sets in, ensure their home is well lit with differing layers of light such as general, accent, and task lighting.
Help them relax.
The darkness can be unnerving, so add relaxation techniques into their routine. Turn on an essential oil diffuser with lavender, play calming music, or read to them. Avoid any overstimulating activities in the afternoon and evening, such as running errands or going out for a birthday.
Keep noise at a minimum.
While you can’t control what happens outside of their home, such as leaf blowers and construction noises, you can help minimize the noise indoors. If the TV is on, keep it a minimum noise level and avoid dramatic shows, intense shows. If they enjoy music, keep it calm and relaxing — ocean and rain music is relaxing.
Sundown syndrome is upsetting for those experiencing it, as they often feel scared and unsafe. To help them feel more secure creating a schedule, flooding the home with light, practicing relaxation techniques, and keeping the noise at a minimum can help them navigate this reality.