Sundowners syndrome is a condition that affects people with Alzheimer’s or dementia, causing them to become confused or agitated in the late afternoon or evening. It is very common among those with memory impairment, but there are still many myths and misconceptions surrounding it.
Here are some facts about sundowners syndrome and how to cope with it:
Fact 1: Sundowners Syndrome is Real. Many people don’t take sundowners syndrome seriously because they think it’s just a “phase” that elderly individuals go through. However, it is a real condition caused by changes in the brain associated with Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia.
Fact 2: The Symptoms Can Be Managed. While there is no cure for sundowners syndrome, the symptoms can be managed through medications, environmental changes and lifestyle adjustments. It’s important for family members of those suffering from this condition to learn as much as possible about their loved one's needs so they can provide appropriate care and support.
Misconception 1: It Only Affects Elderly People. While sundowners syndrome primarily occurs in elderly individuals with Alzheimer's or dementia, younger people may also experience similar symptoms due to conditions like chronic fatigue syndrome or depression.
Misconception 2: It Signals the End of Cognitive Functioning. Sundowners syndrome doesn't necessarily mean that cognitive functioning is declining—it simply means that an individual's confusion and agitation is worse during late afternoon/evening hours than during the day.
Learning more about Sundowners Syndrome can help caregivers understand what their loved ones are experiencing and how best to care for them during episodes of confusion or agitation. With proper treatment, individuals who experience this condition can continue to lead enriching lives despite its challenges.
Here are some tips for care of sundowners syndrome:
- Follow a Routine & Stick to Regular Schedules Create a consistent daily schedule for your loved one and try to stick to it as closely as possible. Having an established routine can help reduce confusion and agitation associated with sundowners syndrome.
- Make Home Comfortable & Safe To reduce anxiety during the day, make sure that the home environment is comfortable and safe. This includes eliminating any potential hazards such as tripping hazards or furniture positioned too close to fireplaces or stoves, and providing soft lighting in the evening hours.
- Monitor Activities & Limit Stimulation Try not to overwhelm your loved one with loud noises or too many activities at once--try keeping stimulation low during times of increased confusion or agitation. Keep an eye on their activities so you can intervene if necessary.
- Adjust Medications If Necessary Talk to your loved one's doctor about medications they may be taking that could be causing confusion or agitation at night--sometimes simply adjusting dosage or timing of medications can have a positive effect on sundowners syndrome symptoms.
Caring for someone with sundowners syndrome can be difficult, but there are steps you can take to make life easier for your family members and provide them with the best possible care. Use these tips as a starting point and work with healthcare professionals to determine strategies that will work best for your situation.