If your caregiving duties become extra challenging in the late afternoon, you're not alone. In fact, many people with dementia and Alzheimer's experience dramatic changes in behavior during this time of day resulting in increased demands upon caregivers. The phenomenon -- thought to be brought on by fading light -- is so common that it's earned its own name: sundowning. Let's take a closer look at sundowner's syndrome, as well as tips and tricks for managing the condition.
Scientists aren't sure why sundowning happens, but believe that the internal body clocks of people with dementia may be unable to accept waking and sleeping signals. Other triggers may include fatigue, hunger or thirst, depression, pain or boredom.
People who are sundowning may exhibit a number of difficult behaviors, including anxiety, confusion, ignoring directions, pacing, wandering, and aggression. They may also struggle with separating dreams from reality.