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5 Ways to Handle Sundowning

Marcy’s dad, Albert, had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. A few years after receiving his diagnosis, Marcy noticed that Albert was often agitated in the evening. He paced the house and seemed nervous. Occasionally, he would try to leave the house and sometimes even lashed out aggressively at Marcy when she tried to stop him. Marcy asked his doctor about it. She told Marcy that Albert, like many people with Alzheimer’s disease, was experiencing sundowning.

Home Care in Tallahassee FL: 5 Ways to Manage Sundowning

Home Care in Tallahassee FL: 5 Ways to Manage Sundowning

Sundowning is a behavioral symptom of Alzheimer’s and dementia. Many family caregivers find it to be one of the most challenging behaviors of the condition. About 20 percent of people with Alzheimer’s experience sundowning. Though an exact cause isn’t known, scientists think it has something to do with the body’s circadian rhythm. Although it’s a tough symptom to deal with, there are some techniques you can use to minimize and prevent sundowning. Here are 5 tips to try.

1. Go along with it.

Sometimes during an episode of sundowning, a senior may be experiencing a different time in their life. For example, they might be reliving being a young parent waiting for their child to come home from school. Instead of arguing about it and trying to convince the senior they are wrong, try playing along with it. So, in the case of someone waiting for a child to come home, do something they might have done while waiting, such as preparing a snack. If the behavior goes on for a while, it’s okay to tell a little fib to move on to something else, such as saying, “Oh, Susie called. She is going to her friend’s house for dinner tonight.”

2. Keep evenings quiet.

Make every evening quiet time to reduce agitation. Play quiet music, read a book together, reminisce over old photos, or arrange to have a family member call for a chat.

3. Keep the house bright.

The shadows that appear toward the end of the day can be frightening or confusing for someone with dementia. Turning on more lights can minimize shadows.

4. Follow a daily routine.

A daily routine helps seniors with dementia to know what to expect next. This can reduce agitation and confusion. Try to eat meals at approximately the same times each day and establish a familiar routine for the evening hours and bedtime.

5. Make a safe area for movement.

If your aging relative tends to pace or move around while sundowning, create an area in the house where they can move without hurting themselves. You can create a path in the house that is free of clutter they could trip on or objects they could bump into. If the yard is secure, you might encourage them to go outside and walk around.

Home care can assist with seniors who experience sundowning. A home care provider can keep the older adult safe, ensuring they don’t wander away or do anything that might be harmful. Home care providers can also help to prevent sundowning by turning on more lights, offering a distraction, and sticking to the daily routine.

If you or an aging loved one are considering home care in Tallahassee, FL, please call the caring staff at Hopewell In-Home Senior Care today at 850-386-5552. Providing Senior Care Services in North Florida




Jami D. Eddy

Jami Eddy is the Administrator and an owner of Hopewell In-Home Senior Care. She graduated from Florida State University in 2005 with a major in criminology and a minor in psychology. Jami has been with Hopewell for more than 10 years and is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the business.