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How to Help Seniors Through Sundowner’s Syndrome

middle aged man putting his hand on an elderly man's shoulder and looking at him sternly

Mood changes are common for aging adults and often accompany health problems. Seniors with memory-related illnesses like dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and Sundowner’s syndrome are especially prone to challenges resulting from mood changes.


About Sundowner’s Syndrome

One common mood issue among seniors with memory-related illnesses is Sundowner’s syndrome.


Sundowner’s Syndrome is:

  1. Not a disease, but a common behavior pattern noticed by medical staff and caregivers
  2. A change in mood occurring in the late afternoon, evening, or night
  3. Spotted by symptoms of stress, anxiety, restlessness, confusion, and/or aggression
  4. Most common among seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease
  5. Worsened by poor lighting, fatigue, or a disrupted schedule

(Senior Living)

Tips for Managing Sundowner’s Syndrome

While most people seem to calm down later in the day, seniors with memory-related issues experiencing Sundowner’s syndrome tend to get more active. There are several ways to help seniors through this challenge.


Support Sleep

Since disruptions to schedules and lack of sleep can exacerbate their condition, it is important to support seniors getting good sleep. A solid routine and supplements like melatonin can help.


Use Lighting

Dimming lights seem to be a trigger of the syndrome, so it can be helpful to plan to turn more lights on later in the day and keep them on until bedtime. Closing the blinds while lights are on can also minimize symptoms.


Be a Calming Presence

To help seniors’ moods stabilize, caregivers should be a calming presence. Limit alcohol intake and activity later in the day. Remain calm if mood swings begin. Remind seniors what time it is and what their schedule holds. This helps seniors to relax despite feelings of confusion or anxiety they may be facing.



megaphoneHome Care Tip

Careful and consistent communication between caregivers is important for seniors who face Sundowner’s syndrome. This ensures routines are kept, which can alleviate symptoms. If you need help establishing a consistent routine for a senior you care for, give us a call. We can help! 615-422-7549

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