According to the Mayo Clinic, the term “sundowning” refers to a state of confusion occurring in the late afternoon and spanning into the night.
“Sundowning can cause a variety of behaviours, such as confusion, anxiety, aggression or ignoring directions. Sundowning can also lead to pacing or wandering.”
As the health body explains, disruption of the body’s internal clock can increase your risk.
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- Natural light and keeping lights on in the home during the day will help maintain the daytime orientation
- Physical activity and doing things that tire the person will help them sleep more at night
- Use meals to set a routine to the day.
You should also look for opportunities for scheduled social interactions, advises Norton Health.
“Isolation tends to cause patients to deteriorate faster, but a regular schedule of activities and visits can help establish a routine,” explains the health body.
It adds: “Also, be mindful of safety around the house.”
“Being too tired can increase late-afternoon and early-evening restlessness,” warns the National Institute of Ageing (NIA).
According to the NIA, do not drink coffee, cola, or other drinks with caffeine late in the day.
The health body also says to avoid:
- Alcoholic drinks. They may add to confusion and anxiety.
- Do not plan too many activities during the day. A full schedule can be tiring.
Sundown syndrome and dementia
Sundowning is highly prevalent among individuals with dementia.
In addition to impaired circadian rhythmicity, environmental and social factors, it is also linked to impaired cognition, according to research published in the journal Psychiatry Investigation.
Dementia is a general term for loss of memory, language, problem-solving and other thinking abilities that are severe enough to interfere with daily life.
Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia.