Is Your Elderly Loved One Sundowning?

As you probably know, people with dementia go through good and bad days. However, did you know that dementia symptoms can occur at certain times of the day? Studies show that dementia symptoms often appear later in the day. This is called sundowner’s syndrome. It is fairly common in people who have dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. As a family caregiver, it is important to know what causes this syndrome.

Home Care Arlington TN - Is Your Elderly Loved One Sundowning?
Home Care Arlington TN – Is Your Elderly Loved One Sundowning?

What does it mean if your elderly loved one is sundowning?

Some studies have shown that about 20% of people who have Alzheimer’s disease show signs of sundowner’s syndrome. Most of these people experience signs of sundowning during the middle and end stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s. Some sundowning symptoms that you and your loved one’s senior care providers need to be aware of include the following:

  •     Restlessness
  •     Disorientation
  •     Mood swings
  •     Suspiciousness
  •     Irritability
  •     Agitation
  •     Shouting
  •     Pacing
  •     Hallucinations

If your elderly loved one has these symptoms they could possibly have sundowner’s syndrome. In addition, if symptoms occur at certain times of the day, particularly as night falls, it could definitely be an indicator of this condition.

What are some reasons that sundowning occurs?

There is still a lot to learn about sundowning. Researchers are continually trying to get a better grasp of this syndrome. Some experts believe it is due to the fact that Alzheimer’s disease interferes with a person’s circadian clock. However, this hasn’t been proven. One thing most experts do agree on is that there seem to be many triggers. Symptoms seem to become worse as night falls and lessen by morning. It also appears that sundowning usually occurs more in people who are having pain, boredom, anxiety, and depression.

What treatments are available for sundowning?

Generally, it isn’t possible to stop sundowner’s syndrome. However, there are ways your elderly loved one can manage this syndrome. For instance, routines can reduce stress which could be triggering your loved one’s symptoms. It would be a good idea to help your elderly loved one stick to a routine and/or schedule. Another thing your loved one can do to help manage their symptoms is to put full-spectrum fluorescent lighting in areas of their home. This can keep the house a bit lighter to help ease or prevent some symptoms.


Remember sundowner’s syndrome affects many people with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. As a home care provider or family caregiver of an elderly adult with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, it is important to learn all you can about this syndrome. You can get more information from your elderly loved one’s medical team. If you have questions please call them today.


For Home Care Services in Arlington TN, please contact the caring staff at Personal Care Services MidSouth today!


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