Elderly Home Care Blog

In addition to helping families and their loved ones, we are happy to share our expert knowledge on senior care. Check out our blog to stay on top of the latest industry news, tips, and insight!

Sundowning in Senior Citizens With Anxiety and Dementia

As dusk approaches, confusion and anxiety set in. Sundowning in Senior Citizens is the sudden onset of delirium in the early evening, typically between 4pm and 6pm. Symptoms progressively worsen as natural light diminishes and shadows form. Some people may even experience paranoia and visual or auditory hallucinations. Late-day confusion can occur in elderly adults, especially those with dementia or other cognitive impairments.

What stage of dementia is Sundowners?

While Sundowners Syndrome can happen at any stage, it is most common in middle and late-stage dementia. That being said, only about 20% of people with dementia will exhibit sundowning symptoms at all.

Symptoms of Sundowning in Senior Citizens

Sundowners Syndrome is characterized by the sudden onset of mental confusion in the afternoon or evening. Moreover, sundowning can exacerbate symptoms of dementia and anxiety. Therefore, watch for these symptoms in the afternoon and evening. 

  • Mood Swings
  • Agitation
  • Aggression
  • Restlessness
  • Confusion
  • Irritability
  • Disorientation
  • Suspicion  
  • Pacing
  • Yelling
  • Hallucinations 

If you notice symptoms, keep track of what time of day they occur. Sundowning only happens late in the day. So, if these symptoms occur at other times, then there is something more going on. 

How to Help Senior Citizens with Sundowners Syndrome 

Many caregivers want to know how they can help their elderly parents with Sundowners. Fortunately, there are many ways to mitigate the symptoms. Curating a calm environment and structure daily routines will go a long way in preventing sundowning in Senior Citizens.  

Minimize Triggers

Pay attention to how different external stimuli affect your loved one at dusk. Then, remove triggers and arrange a peaceful, calming environment instead. 

Maintain Routines

There is security in familiarity. Set a regular daily routine that maximizes activity early in the day. Avoid challenging and stressful tasks in the evenings. 

Light Exposure

Exposure to light during the day helps regulate circadian rhythms. Spend time outdoors. Some people benefit from using a full-spectrum lightbox.

Listen and Validate

It doesn’t help to reason or argue with a person in the midst of sundowning. Instead, validate your loved one’s feelings and let them know you are listening.

Music and Sounds

Music has a calming effect on Senior Citizens with dementia. Starting in the afternoon, play familiar songs from their younger years. Likewise, calming sounds such as ocean waves can help Seniors sleep better at night.

In-home Care

Having extra help at night can make it easier to care for Senior Citizens who struggle with Sundowners Syndrome. At Anita’sAnita’s, Inc., we are here for you. Call us at 908-788-9390 to learn about our evening, overnight, and live-in care options. We are Families Helping Families!

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