It was the end of a lovely day. Dorothy and her husband Herb had enjoyed a nice evening in Kansas City with their children and grandchildren. But as soon as they got to their home in Overland Park and walked into the dark kitchen, Dorothy clutched at Herb’s arm and asked how long they would be in this strange place. Herb had seen this happen before—especially in the evening when the shadows were long and the sun was setting. He brought Dorothy to her favorite chair and put on the radio, tuning into Dorothy’s favorite program. He walked through the house and turned on the lights, so that there were not so many dark shadows, and he sat next to her and assured her she was at home and everything was alright.
Though this story is a fictional rendering of an event, sundown syndrome is very real. Also known as sundowning, sundown syndrome is a neurological phenomenon that affects 1 in 5 people who have Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia.
Experts don’t have precise explanations as to why sundown syndrome occurs, but behavioral patterns suggest that the darkening day may trigger anxiety, mood changes, increased agitation and disorientation in people with dementia.
Though caregivers might be able to recognize the symptoms of sundown syndrome while it’s happening, it can be hard to control. A change in schedule, dehydration, hunger, pain, or lack of sleep could trigger a sundowning event in a loved one who has dementia, but the strain that it can put on a caregiver can have lasting effects.
Thoughtful Care is here to help. Our skilled professionals are available around the clock, and can help create an environment of support and nurture so that the loved one with dementia can get the care that he or she needs, and that the caregiver can get much needed rest. Contact us today for more information.