Alzheimer and Dementia patients can have many complications and it can be difficult, as an outside observer, to know what's going on. One such complication is a behavioral issue call Sun-downing that researchers and Doctors have reported occurs frequently in Dementia patients. Patients experiencing Sun-downing are said to have anxiety, restless, and irritability in the evenings. Besides general disruptions to the internal clock, there is also a state of confusion and disorientation that can have patients confusing dreams and reality. These symptoms can manifest as pacing, yelling, delusions , violence and mood swings.
The causes are not clear to researchers but many believe that it is a hormonal imbalance being exacerbated by environmental triggers such as darker midday spaces and too long napping. Other internal problems may be triggers as well like a Urinary Tract Infection or other malady.
If you don't know what is triggering Sun-downing, it can be difficult to manage it. Like S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder), Sun-downing can benefit from light therapy in the mornings and afternoons. If going outside is not an option there are many light box options for hanging near patients that have the right frequencies of light. It is also recommended that caffeine and naps are kept to a minimum while maintaining a healthy schedule of activities throughout the day. Later in the evenings, studies have shown that calm environments, smaller meals, and dimmer lighting promotes a healthier sleep schedule as well.
Portions of this blog taken from outside professional sources.
10 ways to manage Sundown Syndrome
AARP, May 18, 2017
Sun-downing: Late day confusion
Jonathon Graff-Radford , M.D.
Mayo Clinic.org March 31, 2017