If your loved one has dementia, you may be familiar with the phenomenon known as “sundowning.” This is when dementia sufferers begin displaying certain behavioral symptoms the later in the day it gets. However, there are certain things you can do as a caregiver to mitigate the symptoms.
Learn the triggers
Sundowning can have certain triggers. Some of these are particular to the condition, but they can also vary from person-to-person. Try and observe what seems to set off your loved one at the end of the day. Other than that, common universal triggers include lack of daylight, poor daytime sleep quality (if your loved one takes naps) and too much stimulation in the evening.
React the right way
Reacting in certain ways to your loved one’s symptoms can cause them to get worse – or can prevent them from worsening. Learn the appropriate responses to sundowning, such as:
- Keeping calm
- Refraining from contradicting or arguing
- Assuring your loved one that they’re safe
Stop yourself “sundowning” as well
As you anticipate problematic behavior from your loved one, you may undergo your own version of “sundowning.” This can in turn make the sufferer’s symptoms worse. If you notice yourself becoming impatient, cranky or irritable in advance of the evening hours, try to self-check these impulses.
For more information on sundowning, check with your loved one’s physician.