Sundowning is a symptom of dementia not typically spoken about. You may be asking, “What is Sundowning?” and that is a good question as 1 in 5 individuals living with dementia experience this symptom. Sundowning is the increased feelings of anxiety and agitation experienced by individuals with dementia later in the day. Although the Alzheimer’s Association don’t understand exactly why this is happening, there are certain things that caregivers can do to help reduce this negative side effect.
Keep Schedules Consistent
It’s important for individuals suffering from memory loss to maintain a consistent daily schedule. The consistency decreases stress and anxiety for the individual. If possible, most activity should be planned to be done in the earliest part of the day.
Get To Bed Earlier
Sundowning happens near the end of the day so it’s important to try and wind down early. It’s thought that individuals suffering from dementia pick up on the emotions of their caregivers. By the end of the day, both the person suffering from memory loss and the care provider are not as energetic as they were at the beginning of the day so making sure that you head to bed before each person gets too overwhelmed is a good idea.
As a family member caring for someone with dementia, it's important to enter validation. This technique involves more meaningful communication between the caregiver and the loved one living with dementia, allowing the caregiver the ability to enter his or her world using empathy. Renaissance’s Memory Care staff are highly skilled at using empathy and communication in order to reduce the anxiety of patients and reduce the Sundowning symptom.