Many caregivers observe that their loved ones or caregiving clients become more agitated and more confused and disoriented in the late afternoon or early evening, corresponding with the sun going down. This phenomenon is common enough to have been given the name “Sundowning Syndrome”.

The exact cause of this syndrome is not well understood; however, the trigger for the behavior seems to be fading light. As a result, we have some practical advice for how to ease your loved one through this difficult time of day.

Change the scene
Anticipate the setting sun, and create a more smooth transition by turning on lights before the sun goes down. You can also close the drapes

Minimize napping
Keeping a consistent schedule will help keep your loved one or client sleeping better at night. Taking long naps in the afternoon often delays the onset of regular sleep, and increases the behaviors triggered by the fading light.

Keep caffeine at breakfast
Caffeine can disrupt the body’s natural rhythm, and should be avoided during the afternoon and evening. You can also provide a larger meal mid-day, and a smaller supper in the evening as a way to ease into sleep. Providing calming activities such as listening to relaxing music or playing a familiar game to keep your loved one positively engaged.

At Caring Hands Caregivers, we provide caregivers and loved ones the information and resources they need to better help the seniors that they care for.  We can also provide back up for you or your caregiver, only at night. Feel free to contact me if Caring Hands Caregivers can help you or your loved one.