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Sundowners Syndrome: Help for Alzheimer's Caregivers

Do you care for someone with Alzheimer’s disease who has trouble sleeping?  Have you worked with dementia patients who get agitated in the evenings, feel restless and complain of “wanting to go home”?  The increase in confusion (and resulting behavioral challenges) for people with dementia in late day is typically referred to as “sundowning” behavior or sundowners syndrome.

This can be especially challenging for working caregivers, who may find that it is difficult to get rest in the evenings or may even end up woken up many times at night.  There are safety issues involved if the person with Alzheimer’s has a tendency to try to wander from home or to physically lash out.  caregiver lack of sleep

The Alzheimer’s Association article on sleeplessness and sundowning reminds us that sleeplessness in the person with dementia and resulting caregiver exhaustion are two common reasons for nursing home placement. 

Sundowners syndrome constitutes an array of late afternoon/evening/nighttime symptoms such as sleeplessness, restlessness and agitation.Our article on the causes of Sundowner’s Syndrome and sundowning behavior in dementia offers some tips to help caregivers manage these symptoms and behaviors. 

Many families tell us they are not clear on all of the terminology related to dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, memory loss and sundowning.  You may be wondering if an elder’s memory loss is normal aging or something else. 

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