We continue to get a lot of questions about Sundowners Syndrome (also known as sundowning behavior in dementia). The terms can be confusing, but it is important to understand that sundowners is not a diagnosis or condition on its own, but merely a description of behaviors that often accompany various forms of dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia and others.
Therefore, if your loved one exhibits these signs and has not yet been diagnosed with some form of dementia, you need to consider a good diagnostic workup. We encourage everyone to download our Dementia Guide, which gives a brief explanation of the terminology, signs/symptoms of dementia and getting a diagnosis.
If you are managing care for someone with Sundowner syndrome, you will become the best resource on how to deal with your loved one’s sundowning behaviors. Our tips for caregivers and articles on Sundowners will give you some initial pointers and you may benefit from checking out one or two of the books in Our Recommended Reading on Dementia section. The book about understanding difficult dementia behaviors includes a lot of practical tips for caregivers.
You will develop a routine, which is most helpful to both the person with dementia as well as the dementia caregiver. You will also learn what triggers your loved one’s agitation and restlessness as well as some things that may soothe him or her. Talk to your loved one’s doctor (or seek a referral to a specialist) about medications and other interventions (light therapy is one example).
Eldercare professionals can also help. You can read about some of the ideas that have been used in eldercare settings and by dementia specialists or you may even wish to get an individual geriatric assessment or eldercare consultation. Sometimes a fresh perspective helps, and an experienced professional knows not only what research has shown to work but creative solutions and resources.
What types of symptoms and behaviors have you seen somewhat exhibit as part of sundowning?
What have you found helps your loved one (or client/patient) with Sundowners Syndrome?
We welcome your comments and feedback and would love to share your ideas and resources with our readers!