Sundown syndrome, also called sundowning or sunsetting or sundowners disease, is a behavior common in people with Alzheimer’s disease. As the day progresses, he/she may begin to become more anxious, confused, agitated or disoriented. This distressing behavior can last a few hours or throughout the night, making life very difficult for the caregiver and the patient.
Following are some ways you can help to reduce these frustrating episodes of agitation.
- Schedule the day so that the more difficult tasks are done early in the day, when the person is less likely to become agitated.
- Watch the person’s diet and eating habits. Restrict sweets and drinks with caffeine to the morning hours. Try serving the person a late afternoon snack or an early dinner.
- To help the person relax, try decaffeinated herbal tea or warm milk.
- Keep the house or room well lit. Close the drapes before the sun goes down, so the person doesn’t watch it become dark outside.
- Try distracting the person with activities he or she enjoys. Soothing music or a favorite video may help, as well.
- Discourage afternoon napping and plan activities, such as taking a walk, throughout the day. A person who rests most of the day is likely to be awake at night.