Coping with sundown syndrome for seniors at home with caregivers:

  1. Keep the home well lit in the evenings. Provide adequate lighting to lessen shadows when it begins to get dark. Since fading light can be a trigger, maintaining a well lit environment can minimize the change in behavior.
  2. Keep your loved one active and distracted at the time when sundowning may occur. For example, have them help prepare dinner, set the table, or take on another simple task at that time.
  3. Create a safe and comfortable sleeping environment. Keep the room temperature moderate for sleeping and provide nightlights (if desired) and any other security means to help the person with dementia feel safe, reducing agitation.
  4. Stick to a strict and predictable schedule. Maintaining a daily schedule is key to keeping a healthy sleep pattern, reducing the likelihood for sundowning later in the day. In addition, planning regular exercise or activities during the day (such as brisk walks, the stationary bike, or social day programs) may reduce restlessness at night.
  5. Avoid stimulants. Alcohol, coffee, soda, and nicotine can all interfere with sleep cycles, especially for those experiencing dementia.
  6. Keep a journal. Record the times when sundowning occurs—this can help you pinpoint triggers and determine which strategies help to ease them.
  7. Surround the person with dementia with familiar and comforting things. Whether it is a comfortable chair, pictures of loved ones, favorite music, or a particular smell (lavender, pine, etc.), these items may ease agitation or disorientation.
  8. Talk to a professional. If symptoms of sundowning are impacting quality of life for you and the person you care for, consider seeking a professional dementia care consultation. Dementia care experts can help you determine underlying causes of sundowning and to put new strategies in place to reduce challenging behaviors.
  9. Have apple slices for snacks. Hydrate with warm drink of ginger, cranberry and lemon.
  10. Apply lotion or oil with lavender and eucalyptus to legs and arms.