Sundowning Planning

Although the causes of sundowning are unknown,  a plan can be made to reduce most of the
difficulties that occur. Normal sundowning typically lasts for a couple of
hours and, usually, does not involve destruction of property nor physical
attacks on others.

However, the caregiver must refrain from being agitated,
needy, upset, and angry. Sundowning in an adult is like a tantrum in a small
child. It represents real feelings, but requires a calm, kind, centered adult

Remind yourself that it will pass, and listen
carefully, because the emotional meaning within the sundowning is real. While
nobody knows the actual cause of this response, it can reasonably be assumed
that it is a multi-factor issue:

1. Exhaustion — it’s very tiring to have dementia;
2. Hunger — late afternoon drop in blood sugar;
3. Dehydration — increases dementedness;
4. Accumulation of past trauma;
5. Sense of emotional loss, sorrow and fear — because of dementia itself;
6. Recycling of un-dealt-with life traumas.

Encourage your person to sleep longer in the morning, take
an afternoon nap, and go to bed earlier. Attend to your person about an hour
before usual sundowning time so the body can absorb the food and drink.

Diversion Plan:

1. Use pure essential lavender oil diffused wherever you are
— at home, in vehicle. Notable studies have shown they reduce agitation and
bring calm.
2. Go out for a drive, a walk, a meal — whatever works;
3. Likewise, at home, use photo albums of old-time family members, not the
living. Have tissues for possible weeping.
4. Maybe a great comic video works — you’ll already know what works, so use
that as the diversion.


1. Weeping is cathartic;
2. Try to be the comfort, without using words.
3. This too shall pass.
4. Sundowning doesn’t hurt.
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