Sundowning - what does it mean?

Sundowning - what does it mean?

Sundowning. Have you heard the term before? I hadn't, so I was intrigued and wanted to learn more. 

No, it is not referring to the sun going down. It refers to a change in a person's behaviour as the sun goes down.

In particular, people with dementia or those experiencing cognitive decline seem to manifest this change in behaviour. 

An increase in confusion, reduced attention, increased agitation, and pacing. Even shouting or being paranoid. 

This can be very upsetting and confusing for both the person experiencing it and those around them.

If you know someone who exhibits such behaviour, here are a few things to consider. 

First, if they have not already been diagnosed with dementia or a similar ailment, such as Alzheimer's, look to diagnose the problem.

Other possible reasons can include a drop in blood sugar or low blood pressure.  Rule all these possibilities out and get a proper doctor's opinion on the cause. 

Light plays an important role. Some argue that the change in light from morning to evening can be the cause. To compensate, you can use a high-lumen light with up to 10,000 lumens.

A drop or change in melatonin levels can be another cause. A blood test, saliva test, or urine test can tell you if melatonin levels are low. Depending on what you find, you could consider adding alternative sources of melatonin. 

Sometimes it can be the medicines. Remember, chemicals have a dose and what is called a half life. A half-life is the time when the effect starts to wear off. Check with your doctor to see if the medicine's dose is correct.

Obviously, check the more common causes, such as loss of hearing. Often overlooked, a loss or reduction in hearing or vision can make it appear as though cognition has dropped. 

Sundowning is not a disease, but rather a symptom that something is amiss.

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