Sundowner’s syndrome is named for the time of day during which it is likely to occur. Sundowner’s symptoms crop up around sunset, when seniors struggling with dementia may feel an increased sense of confusion, agitation, and memory loss. It isn’t just coincidence – there are reasons sundowner’s symptoms happen, and things that can be done to help soothe a senior suffering with this problem.
Many seniors get these symptoms due to it being the end of a long day. Often times, caregivers and others are trying to fit in as many things as possible at the end of a day, whether it’s people heading home, a shift change, or simply trying to finish up activities. Add in the fatigue that comes after dinner, plus lower light that can inhibit vision and lead to anxiety, and you can see why sundown may be stressful.
How can you help a senior dealing with sundowner’s symptoms?
Setting up an end-of-day routine works well, as patients will know exactly what to expect. It is important to stick to this routine as best as you can, every day, as deviations from it may cause seniors to feel a resurgence of anxiety and other stress.
You can also use routines to your advantage during the rest of the day, providing a loose sense of predictability and schedule.
Be aware of physical stressors like loud noises and lack of light. Keep things quiet and soothing around sundown, while letting light in as much as possible if it helps. Try not to schedule visitors for the end of the day, and if shift changes are happening, try to not let the hustle and bustle affect the senior.
Remember, compassion, routine, and simple understanding go a long way to helping alleviate sundowner’s syndrome symptoms!