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What is sundowning?

Dementia Care FAQs

Dementia can cause an individual to behave differently. Sometimes these behaviours are outside what we class as ‘normal’. Sundowning refers to changes in behaviour (often related to anxiety and agitation) that happen in the evening. It often starts in the late afternoon (at dusk) and continues late into the night. This is why it is called ‘Sundowning’.

What are the signs of sundowning?

The behaviours that manifest during sundowning can vary from person to person. Often the individual might become anxious or agitated. They may express the feeling that they are in the wrong place or tell you that they need to go home (despite already being at home). Similarly they may find it difficult to recognise familiar people or understand what is going on


What is sundowning?

What causes sundowning?

There is not one, concrete reason for sundowning. Instead, it can happen for a number of reasons, including:

  • Tiredness
  • A disturbed body clock
  • Loss of routine
  • A side effect of medication
  • Overstimulation
  • Sight or hearing loss

Tips For Managing Sundowning

In many cases, coping with sundowning can be difficult, particularly if the person you are caring for becomes very distressed or argumentative. Here are some tips to help you care for someone with dementia who is experiencing sundowning:

  • Gently try and engage the individual in activity they find relaxing and enjoyable;
  • Explore what the person may be trying to communicate through the behaviour they are showing;
  • Encourage the person to spend time outside during daylight hours and keep curtains open throughout the day;
  • Consider the environment – is it too light/dark? Are the noise levels high? Or is it very quiet?
Specialist Dementia Care From Lovett Care

Caring for an individual with dementia can be very difficult for carers, despite its rewards. If you are looking for help and support in caring for an individual with dementia, we can help. Across our care homes we offer respite and day care to support carers in their roles. For more information and to speak to a member of our team, contact us today.