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Sundowners Syndrome: Tips For Helping Seniors Manage

Sundowners Syndrome: Tips for Helping Seniors Manage

Mood changes are common for aging adults and often accompany health problems. Seniors with memory related illnesses like dementia or Alzheimer’s disease are especially prone to challenges resulting from mood changes.

What is Sundowners Syndrome?

One common mood issue among seniors with memory-related illnesses is sundowners syndrome. Sundowners Syndrome is:

  • Not a disease, but a common behavior pattern noticed by medical staff and caregivers
  • A change in mood occurring in the late afternoon, evening, or night
  • Spotted by symptoms of stress, anxiety, restlessness, confusion, and/or aggression
  • Most common among seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease
  • Worsened by poor lighting, fatigue, or a disrupted schedule

Triggers of Sundowners Syndrome

To help minimize triggers of Sundowners Syndrome, avoid:

  • Dim or changing lighting
  • Disruptions to routines
  • Unhealthy diets
  • Exciting, energizing activities later in the day
  • Loud noises and music
  • Argumentative or commanding tones

Tips for Managing Sundowners Syndrome

While most people seem to calm down later in the day, seniors with memory-related issues experiencing sundowners syndrome tend to get more active. There are several ways to help seniors through this challenge.

Support Sleep

Since disruptions to schedules and lack of sleep can exacerbate sundowners syndrome, it is important to support seniors getting good sleep. A solid routine and supplements like melatonin can help.

Use Lighting

Dimming lights seem to be one of the triggers of sundowners syndrome, so it can be helpful to plan to turn more lights on later in the day and keep them on until bedtime. Closing the blinds while lights are on can also minimize symptoms.

Be a Calming Presence

To help seniors’ moods stabilize, caregivers should be a calming presence. Limit alcohol intake and activity later in the day. Remain calm if mood swings begin. Remind seniors what time it is and what their schedule holds. This helps seniors to relax despite feelings of confusion or anxiety they may be facing.

Home Care Tip: Careful and consistent communication between caregivers is important for seniors who face sundowners syndrome. This ensures routines are kept, which can alleviate symptoms.


If you or your family member is considering in-home care as part of a plan to age in place, contact Family Matters In-Home Care today for a free consultation.  Our team is dedicated to supporting your family and helping older adults enjoy life in the comfort of their own home for as long as possible.

Some of the services offered by Family Matter In-Home Care include: Alzheimer’s & Dementia CareBed & Wheelchair Transfer AssistanceCompanionshipHousekeeping & Meal PreparationPersonal CareRecovery Care, and Transportation.

Serving the San Francisco Bay Area, Greater San Diego, and now Oregon, Family Matter In-Home Care has offices in Campbell, CARoseville, CASan Marcos, CASan Mateo, CA, and Portland, OR.

Sources:

  • https://cdn2.hubspot.net/hubfs/1708580/Marketing%20Monthlies/PDFs%20from%20Windfarm%20Marketing/1219-SundownersSyndrome-RGB.pdf
  • https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/314685.php
  • https://www.seniorliving.org/health/sundown-syndrome/
  • https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/mental-health-of-older-adults
  • https://www.webmd.com/alzheimers/guide/manage-sundowning#2

Carol Pardue-Spears

Carol has worked in the healthcare field for more than forty years. As a Certified Nursing Assistant, she worked for El Camino Hospital in the cardiac unit, Los Gatos Community Hospital, The Women’s Cancer Center in Los Gatos and several home health and hospice agencies. Carol founded Family Matters in 2002 to fill a deficit she witnessed in high-quality, in-home services and care.