Understanding Sundowners Syndrome

Understanding Sundowners Syndrome

January 27, 2021 | by the National Care Planning Council

If you know or care for someone who suffers from Alzheimer's disease, you may notice regular behavioral changes at certain times of the day. Doctors refer to this as Sundowners Syndrome, 'late-day confusion', or 'sundowning', as symptoms occur late in the afternoon or when the sun sets. Symptoms tend to alleviate by morning. More than 60% of adults who suffer from late-stage Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia experience a certain set of sundowning (neuropsychiatric) symptoms, which include:

The symptoms of Sundowners Syndrome usually intensify as the syndrome progresses. Symptoms can become more regular and severe and might include:

Unfortunately, there is no test available to diagnose Sundowners. Diagnosis is based off appearance and frequency of symptoms. Watch your loved one for symptoms, especially during late afternoon. Record your findings and talk with a doctor about your concerns.

Although there is no cure for Sundowners, several things have shown to help with the symptoms:

It may take some time to find the best way to care for and manage your loved ones needs. There are several different strategies will help you as you care for someone experiencing Sundowners:

Caring for someone with Sundowners Syndrome can be taxing, both emotionally and physically. Remember to practice self-care. Call in help when you need it. Try to find someone your loved one feels comfortable with, other than yourself, so you can take breaks. Take naps during the day as you can. Make an effort to eat healthy and get some exercise. Spend time with friends and seek to keep up on your own hobbies.

Remember there is always help. Consider hiring a home health care service for some scheduled time away, or just reassurance for your care. Memory care and assisted living facilities can also help seniors who experience sundowning.

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