Sundowning is a common condition among people with Alzheimer’s disease in which symptoms of confusion and irritation increase drastically in the late afternoon and evening. While sundowning is much more moderate in some people than others, for some it can be an almost daily dramatic event. Outbursts of anger and irrational thinking; confusion and yelling; sometimes even physical assault. So what are we supposed to do as caretakers in this tough situation?
-This is a good time to remember that your loved one is taking their medication at timely intervals each day.
-One of the most important things to keep in mind in the face of these outbursts is that these behaviors are not directed at you, nor do they reflect who you are as a person. You must feel confident in your decisions and directions, and remember that although your loved one may have been the sharp person that used to be of sound mind and was the decision maker, that is sadly not who they are anymore. Their actions reflect their disease.
-Let the person be alone during these times of struggle as much as possible. However, make sure that they are safe.
-Keep things calm in the evening. Try to keep sleep routines as regular as possible.
-Here are some ways to react to the person who is sundowning:
-Speak in a low, non-accusatory voice
-Agree with them as much as possible
-Ask if they need anything
-Reassure them that everything is okay
-On some occasions, leave the room and come back, which helps reset the conversation.
Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s can be a lot of hard work. As always, make sure to get enough time for yourself, and practice self-care.