Good treatment options for those with sundowning syndrome due to Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia include maintaining regular evening routines, performing outside activities during the day, turning on lights to eliminate shadows and limiting distractions, explains WebMD. Caregivers should remain calm, offer reassurance and watch their loved ones to keep them safe. Although medication is available to help people with dementia sleep, it may leave them more confused the following day.
To ensure that people with dementia are tired at night, caregivers should limit their naps, caffeine, sugar, nicotine and alcohol, notes WebMD. They should schedule larger meals for earlier in the day and lighter meals in the evenings. They should keep rooms uncluttered and quiet. To help people with dementia relax in the evenings, caregivers can read with them, play cards, listen to soothing music and take walks.
Sundowning is not an illness, and health care specialists are unsure why the symptoms recur, reports Mayo Clinic. Factors that may exacerbate confusion late in the day include tiredness, dim lighting, shadows and inability to distinguish dream from reality. Evening staff changes may also confuse people with dementia at care facilities. They may associate late afternoon and evening activities with behaviors that occurred in their past. Background noises such as television may intensify their confusion.