For all of us who take care of an elderly loved one with a form of dementia , we may have experienced times where they get out of sorts around sundown. They may show signs of dementia all day long or only when the sun goes down. Your loved one may have a condition called Sundowner’s Syndrome.

Elderly people with dementia can have periods of sadness, fear and other changes in behavior a little before and after sunset.

You may have noticed that the person who you are providing care for may become more needy and start to follow you around after dark. 

They may ask a lot of questions and have a hard time understanding more complex conversations. They may forget some of their language capabilities. 

Another alarming thing that can happen, is that your loved one can wander and even leave the house. They can then become disoriented and get lost.

Sundowner's_Golden_Heart_Senior_Care_St. GeorgeCauses of Sundowning

Medical science and healthcare professionals still are not sure what causes Sundowner’s Syndrome. Of course the theory is that symptoms have something to do with the with onset of darkness. This can become even more severe during the winter months.

Many professionals in the medical field believe that Sundowner’s Syndrome is an accumulation of all the sensory stimulation of the entire day.

This can become overwhelming to an elderly person with dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease

Some also believe it has to do with a hormonal imbalance that happens at night.  Others think it has to do with the anxiety of not being able to see well in the dark. It can also be caused by fatigue. 

Behaviors and Symptoms of Sundowner’s Syndrome

  • Paranoia
  • Violent behavior
  • Fear
  • Pacing back and forth
  • Anger
  • Depression
  • Restlessness
  • Hiding things in weird places
  • Crying
  • Anxiety
  • Stubbornness

How to Cope with Sundowner’s Syndrome

  • Keep them active and not let them sit around or sleep all day
  • Keep things calm around the house at sunset
  • Turn on inside lights and keep night lights on in dark areas
  • Always have a routine at this time of the day
  • Play music
  • Let your loved one sleep wherever they are comfortable
  • Ensure their safety by installing proper locks and safety devices


How Golden Heart Senior Care Southern Utah can help: We are here to assist with you with taking care of a family member with dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease. Any caregiver who enters your home goes through our process of background checks, drug testing, interviews, and references. Golden Heart Senior Care provides superior companionship care. Reference our companionship care page to learn more. We are also licensed and bonded. Please refer to our Senior Advocacy page for more information. If you would like Golden Heart Senior Care Southern Utah to advocate for you and your loved one, please call us at (435) 669-3704.

Resources for Sundowner’s Syndrome:




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