The term “sundowning” or “sundown syndrome” refers to a state of confusion in the late afternoon or early evening. Often associated with dementia, sundowning has been observed and described as a combination of confusion, exhaustion and restlessness. Sundowning can cause a variety of behaviors, such as anxiety, aggression, ignoring direction, pacing and wandering.
As noted in our previous blog posts on managing challenging behaviors, the main underlying cause of symptoms like aggression, anxiety and confusion is the progressive damage to brain cells caused by Alzheimer's disease and related dementias. Certain situations — such as a change in living arrangements, switch in routine or certain infections — can cause symptoms to worsen.