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When The Sun Sets: A Family Caregiver’s Guide to Sundowning

What is sundowning?

Sundowning, also known as “late-day confusion,” affects many people with dementia. As the sun sets, these patients show a variety of symptoms.

You will notice more confusion, anxiety, and agitation than usual. Which causes emotional strain for the patient and family caregiver.

Therefore, It’s super important to get familiar with the patterns that occur during sundowning.


Impact on Family Caregivers

The effects of sundowning extend beyond the patients to their caregivers, they may experience increased stress and frustration.

When this happens it’s called caregiver burnout. It’s a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion.

 It can disrupt household routines, affecting the caregiver’s time and sleep.

As a result, this can lead to feelings of isolation and depression.

I know firsthand how this feels, seeing a loved one in distress is emotionally taxing and overwhelming. We went through this with my grandmother.


Coping Strategies for Sundowning

  1. Establish a Routine

A consistent routine can provide stability for patients with dementia. Regular meals, activities, and bedtime schedules help reduce sundowning symptoms.

  1. Engage in Soothing Activities

Involving the patient in relaxing activities during the late afternoon can be helpful.

This might include things like listening to music they enjoy, as well as looking at photo albums or doing simple craft activities.

The key is to find activities that are soothing and not overstimulating.

  1. Track Diet and Medication

Certain dietary choices and medications can affect sleep patterns and behavior. Avoiding caffeine and sugary snacks late in the day helps a lot.

It’s also a good idea to consult her physician about the medications you are using and discuss their potential impact on sundowning symptoms.

4. Professional Assistance

In a lot of cases, you may need a professional caregiver, like a CNA or an HHA (home health aide). 

You can hire one through a Homecare agency, or directly. Which one’s better depends on your circumstances

Either way you decide to go, we can help with the setup and management of the process, especially for the first couple of weeks.

5. Personal Self-Care (It’s about YOU here!)

And lastly, family caregivers need to focus on their own health and well-being. You’re not good to anyone if you’re burned out.

This includes getting enough rest, physical activity, personal time, and eating a balanced diet. Take good care of yourself, and deploy self-care as much as you can.

If you’re in the middle of a sundowning crisis with a parent or spouse, this information will get you going the right way.

If you find yourself in a bigger fight than you expected, then think about employing an Alzheimer’s home care aide who specializes in caring for these types of patients. In this respect, we can help.

Take care and stay healthy!


If you or an aging loved one are considering Alzheimer’s Home Care in Kendall, FL, please contact the caring staff at Angel Home Care Services today. Call (305) 220-4544

A Trusted Home Care Agency in the Kendall, West Kendall, Kendall West, South Miami, West Miami, Coral Gables, Coconut Grove, Doral, Cutler Bay, Sweetwater, Florida, and surrounding areas.

Claudio Alegre

Schedule Your Free Personal Eligibility Assessment Today!

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