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Tips for Reducing Sundowning

Elderly woman sitting on a bed

Caregivers in Midtown NY: Tips for Reducing Sundowning

Sundowning is a symptom of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. It is a group of symptoms that appear late in the day and often continue on through the evening hours. Their cause is not clear, though some relate it to the increasing shadows that evening brings and the confusion and fear that results. Fatigue may also play a part, as well as a disruption in their sleep-wake cycle. This symptom usually occurs in the middle to late stages of the disease.


Symptoms include agitation, increased anxiety or confusion, as well as aggression. It is at this time of day that wandering becomes most active. Wandering involves the tendency to get confused in familiar places and begin walking in search of familiar surroundings, only to get lost.

How to Help

  • As a family caregiver, there are steps you can take to minimize the effects and frequency of sundowning.
  • Help your parent feel safe by providing them with a daily routine and structured activities. This is one of the most important steps that you can take. A daily structure helps them to know what they can count on in their ever-changing world. Include a relaxing bedtime ritual and keep their environment as stress-free as possible. This may include a warm bath, relaxing music, an easy to understand game or reading their favorite book together.
  • Limit their intake of caffeine, alcohol, nicotine and sugar.
  • Make sure their home is well lit and turn on the lights prior to sunset, keeping shadows to a minimum.
  • Some caregivers find that naps significantly improve this symptom while others find that it is necessary to limit the time of day and the amount of time their loved one naps. Trial and error will let you know what works best for your parent. Along this same vein—some caregivers find a late afternoon walk brings benefits while others find more relaxing activities valuable.
  • Be sure to make an appointment with their primary health care provider. Urinary tract infections have been known to produce similar symptoms in those with Alzheimer’s. In addition, their doctor may recommend a particular medication. Specific drugs may provide some relief from the effects of sundowning. Ask them about the use of melatonin, a hormone that the body makes which helps control the sleep/wake cycles.

Referred Caregiver

Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s can have its challenging moments. It‘s important to remember to take time off to recharge and care for yourself. Consider the services of a referred caregiver. These professionals have cared for countless individuals facing this disease and know the strategies that can help induce a calming environment and minimize the symptoms that this time of day often brings.


If you or an aging loved one are considering non-medical in-home care in Manhattan, NY, call Griswold Home Care and speak to one of our caring staff members today. Call (212) 845-9854