Understanding Sundown Syndrome

Oct 2, 2023

When your loved one has Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, they may become more agitated or confused in the late afternoon or evening. This is a common issue called sundowning that many people with memory loss experience. While it’s not clear what causes it, dementia does affect a person’s biological clock and circadian rhythm, causing dysregulation in the sleep and wake cycle.

Understanding sundown syndrome, what causes it, how to recognize it, and how to best support your loved one when they’re sundowning will help you navigate it and take steps to prevent it from happening in the future.

What Is Sundown Syndrome?

Sundowning is the group of behaviors and feelings that people with dementia experience that typically occur when the sun sets. Sundowning can affect personality, mood, and cognitive functions, like memory and reasoning.

Sundowning, or “late-day-confusion,” can be caused by several factors, including:

  • Boredom
  • Hunger or dehydration
  • Pain
  • Infection
  • Exhaustion/fatigue
  • Depression

There are also situations that can aggravate sundowning, including:

  • Spending time in an unfamiliar environment
  • Low lighting
  • Overstimulation
  • Illness
  • Medication side effects

Symptoms of Sundown Syndrome

If your loved one is agitated or upset due to sundowning, they may show one of the following signs of sundowning:

  • Pacing
  • Wandering
  • Yelling
  • Following their caregiver closely
  • Crying
  • Sleep problems

You may even notice that they don’t seem like themselves or that something is bothering them. Once you recognize that they’re exhibiting sundowning behaviors, you can take steps to improve the present situation and plan to remove anything from the routine that is agitating your loved one in the future.

senior man and son looking as a photo album together

Quartet Memory Care Programming

As a caregiver, you may find that your loved one needs further support. Memory Care at Quartet Senior Living provides a high level of care, compassionate staff with specialized training, and a safe environment that will allow your loved one to thrive.

Our Awakenings™ program focuses on sensory, engaging activities that your loved one will enjoy. Aromatherapy, massage, cooking, and art therapy are just a handful of examples of what we incorporate into our resident’s routines so they can flourish. Our staff will lead an engaging day where your loved one is comfortable and around plenty of sunlight can help them feel calm and ready for rest at the end of the day.

senior woman doing a puzzle with her caregiver in memory care

Plan for Your Loved One’s Future at Quartet

We understand that moving to Memory Care is a big decision. You want your loved one to have the quality of life and enjoyment they deserve. Give us a call today to learn more about the offerings at Memory Care at Quartet Senior Living and how we can support your family.