Sundowners syndrome, also known as nocturnal delirium, is generally seen in early-stage Alzheimer’s, but it sometimes occurs in elderly people who are recovering from surgery or who find themselves in unfamiliar environments. The individual shows increased irritation, confusion, or disorientation that seems to come on in the late afternoon or evening hours.
Causes of Sundowners Syndrome
There is only speculation on why sundowners syndrome occurs in some dementia patients. One theory is that because the individual’s vision is already diminished, the loss of daylight leads to increased disorientation and agitation. Traumatic psychological events—recent loss of a loved one, functioning, or independence—may trigger sundowners. Changes in medication, routine, or caregivers may cause agitation. Even a noisy environment or frustration with toileting could bring on symptoms.
Symptoms of Sundowners Syndrome
Typical symptoms of sundowners include
- rapid mood changes;
- “shadowing” people;
- repeatedly asking the same question, and interrupting before you can answer;
- restlessness; and
More severe symptoms may include
- hiding objects;
- violence; and
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