The term sundowning refers to a sudden state of confusion that can occur in people with dementia. This state of confusion often comes on in the late afternoon and can persist well into the evening. As many as one in five people may develop sundowning. Below are some symptoms of sundowning as well as some tips for dealing with it.

Symptoms of sundowning include:

• Agitation

• Confusion

• Irritability

• Increased stubbornness

• Seeing and hearing things that are not there

• Paranoia

These symptoms coming on quickly towards the end of the day and persisting in the night are tell-tale signs of sundowning. Factors like fatigue, lack of light, disruption of the body’s internal clock, and infections can trigger episodes.

While eliminating sundowning completely is not possible, there are ways to reduce its effects and the severity of the episodes. Keeping a predictable routine can help people keep a sense of security in the evenings. Limit daytime napping. Napping can throw off the internal clock and lead to confusion. Try to keep napping early in the day. Keep rooms well lit at night. Reduce background noise as it can sometimes be an upsetting stimulus. Keep evening activities quiet and relaxing, such as reading or listening to relaxing music. Anything that creates a relaxing atmosphere will help.

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