Have you ever heard of the term ‘late-day confusion’ in the context of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease?

It’s another name for ‘sundowning’, a phenomenon where individuals become increasingly agitated or disoriented as the day progresses. But what exactly causes this symptom, and how familiar are caregivers and healthcare professionals with it?

Let’s explore this topic in more depth.

“Late-day confusion” or “Sundowning” is a phenomenon where individuals with dementia exhibit increased restlessness and agitation during the late afternoon or early evening.

While the name suggests a connection to sunset, the symptoms aren’t strictly tied to the time of day.

Several factors might contribute to sundowning:

  • Physical discomfort, such as hunger or pain
  • Lack of sufficient daylight exposure
  • Overstimulation from a busy environment
  • Disruptions in the internal body clock due to brain changes
  • Hormonal fluctuations throughout the day
  • Sensory challenges, like vision or hearing loss
  • External factors, including caregiver availability or medication side effects

Identifying the root cause is essential, as each trigger requires a tailored approach.

Sometimes, the individual might be trying to express a basic need.

If they appear agitated, engaging them in a comforting conversation or reminiscing about positive memories may help.