Sundowning and Dementia: How to cope with restlessness at the end of the day.

You may notice that your family member's behavior begins to change in the late afternoon or early evening. Sundowning is restlessness that usually comes up in the evening around sunset. Your family member become anxious and easily upset. Even if you do coax the person into sitting down, she is soon up out of her chair and roaming around the room.

There is no clear explanation as to why many dementia and Alzeimer's disease sufferers struggle with sundowning or sundowners as it is sometimes called. This problem is further complicated because it is the time of day when many families are preparing dinner and family members who have been out all day are returning home.

Here are some techniques that can help with this challenging part of the day.

  • Before the sun goes down, close the curtains and turn on interior lights.
  • Try having your family member take a short nap or rest during the earlier part of the afternoon to ward off late afternoon tiredness.
  • Create a quiet atmosphere without a lot of distraction and busyness.
  • Plan outings, visits and appointments for early in the day when your family member is less confused.
  • Try to engage your family member in a simple task or activity that she enjoys.
  • Think of ways that you can restructure your activities so that you are not busy, tired or distracted at this time of day and can give your family member more attention and support.
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