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Does Sundowning Last for a Long Time?

By Mark Schmidt, 9:00 am on December 23, 2019

Sundowning is something many people with dementia experience around the middle stages of the disease. For caregivers, the realization that their senior loved one suddenly displays enhanced symptoms during certain parts of the day presents a new challenge that must be overcome. The good news is sundowning doesn’t last all day, and you can do things to minimize the disruptions it causes to your loved one’s daily routine.

Understand What Sundowning Involves

Dementia creates many different symptoms that can make life challenging. During any part of the day, your loved one may have difficulty with memory loss or confusion. However, sundowning tends to involve an increased amount of negative symptoms and behaviors that can quickly escalate. For instance, seniors may suddenly become aggressive if they think they must get to a job they retired from years ago but can’t leave the house. Your loved one may also become increasingly antagonistic and refuse to do things you ask him or her to do, such as bathe.

If your senior loved one has been diagnosed with a serious condition and needs help with tasks like meal prep, transportation, bathing, and grooming, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of home care Tucson, AZ, families can trust. We also offer comprehensive care for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.

Expect It to Last a Few Hours

Most seniors experience these behaviors in the evening hours, which is why people call it sundowning. However, you should know sundowning can happen at any point during your loved one’s daily routine, but it will usually be around the same time each day. The good news is it usually only lasts for a few hours, and most seniors are back to their normal selves by the time they go to bed. Knowing the behavior will end can help you maintain a positive perspective when times are challenging.

Watch Your Loved One’s Patterns

You can sometimes stay one step ahead of sundowning by getting to know your loved one’s normal time for the behaviors to start. Start a journal and note when you see your loved one beginning to get agitated. You can also try to notice what’s happening at that time and if it’s the same every day. For example, your loved one may begin to respond negatively to shadows being cast in the room as the sun goes down. You may also find that your loved one gets upset about an hour before eating, and feeding him or her a little sooner may minimize the behaviors.

Some family caregivers may have a difficult time managing their loved one’s dementia-related behaviors. Caring for a senior loved one can be challenging for families who don’t have expertise or professional training in home care, but this challenge doesn’t have to be faced alone. Family caregivers can turn to Home Care Assistance for the help they need. We provide high-quality live-in and respite care as well as comprehensive Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care.

Find Ways to Ease the Behaviors

Once you identify patterns in your loved one’s sundowning, you can reduce the amount of time he or she is agitated. Experiment with different techniques to help your loved one relax at the end of the day. For instance, your loved one may need you to play relaxing music to distract him or her from delusions. Alternatively, your loved one may need a caregiver to keep him or her company while you do your late evening chores. Keeping your loved one busy and comfortable can help him or her have milder incidents of sundowning.

Even when families have the best intentions, caring for a senior loved one with dementia can be challenging. Fortunately, Home Care Assistance is here to help. We are a leading provider of dementia care. Tucson families can take advantage of our flexible and customizable care plans, and our caregivers always stay up to date on the latest developments in senior care. Give us a call today at (520) 276-6555 to learn more about how we can help your loved one enjoy a higher quality of life while managing the challenges of dementia.