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Suggestions for dealing with sundowners syndrome?

My mother-in-law is blind and she gets agitated as the day wears on, specifically in the late afternoon and evening hours she constantly says she is afraid of everything and when she gets very agitated, has trouble sleeping at night she is being treated by a psychiatrist but we still have not found the right combination of medicines to keep her calm during the day and to sleep the whole night without waking up. we give her melatonin along with the medicines she has been prescribed. Are there any things that we could do for her that would calm her down when she gets very agitated? Please advise.
Clara B

Status: Open    Jan 27, 2015 - 04:05 PM

Dementia, Caregiving

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3 answers

APFM Staff Answers

Feb 16, 2015 - 05:13 PM

I know you said she is blind, but she gets more agitated as the day wears on. Perhaps she can still see or sense light. For some, this change in lighting seems to be part of the sundowning experience. Some folks with sundowning have shown improvement just by turning on all the lights in all the rooms around 2:00 in the afternoon. Keep them all on until it is time for bed. Give it a try and see if it helps.

Aug 13, 2015 - 03:20 PM

I am not a dementia expert but we do have a couple of articles on the A Place for Mom blog that discuss sundowner's syndrome, I hope these provide some useful tips.

11 Tips For Dealing With Sundowning and Dementia

Sundowners Syndrome: Triggers & Management

4 Ways to Soothe Sundowner’s Symptoms



Feb 01, 2015 - 01:16 AM

Yes, Music from her day and lots of things on her bed with textures like super soft fluffy throws. A doll that feels like a puppy or a baby. Blocks that she can stack. Anything that will keep her hands busy.

If she is afraid, she may be having hallucinations or hearing things, ask her about it in a way that won't scare her. If she thinks people are in her room, simple tell her they are not real and tell her to order them out of her room and shut her eyes and when she opens them they will be gone. Remind her they are they are not there to harm her that they are just lost and if she tells them to leave it will help them find thier way home.
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