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Sundowning: What Is It and How Do I Prevent It?

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For individuals with dementia, the evening hours can bring increased restlessness, agitation, and confusion. This unusual behavior is known as sundowning and usually occurs as the daylight fades. Sundowning can continue into the night which makes sleep a challenge. Aside from palliative care, caregivers can help seniors cope with sundowning.

As a leading provider of comprehensive care in Bethesda, Maryland, we will share ways to prevent sundowning:

  • Establish a predictable schedule.
    Maintaining a schedule is key to keeping a healthy sleep pattern and reducing the likelihood of sundowning. A caregiver can aid in fall prevention and in planning regular exercise or activities during the day to reduce restlessness at night while ensuring safety.
  • Keep the home well-lit at night.
    For some seniors, fading light can be a trigger for sundowning with some seniors experiencing hallucinations or energy surges. Hence, provide adequate lighting to lessen shadows when it starts to get dark to minimize the change in behavior.
  • Avoid or reduce stimulants.
    Individuals with dementia are sensitive to stimulants like alcohol, soda, coffee, and nicotine. These stimulants can interfere with sleep cycles and make it more difficult to fall asleep at night. It also helps to keep a journal to record when sundowning occurs to help pinpoint triggers.
  • Keep the person comfortable.
    Whether it’s a photo of loved ones or favorite music, surround your loved one with familiar and comforting things. A comfortable chair or favorite item may help ease agitation or disorientation.

Here at SERENITY ESTATE HOME CARE, we specialize in holistic, top-quality home health care. Whether you are interested in companion care or oncology care in Maryland, set an appointment with us to discuss your loved one’s care needs.

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