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Is my grandma developing sundowners and how can I help?


Registered User
Dec 30, 2015
Hello! So to start off I'm 21 and I live with my parents,siblings and my grandma. In the beginning of this year my grandma was diagnosed with dementia and she was put on the lowest dosage of her medication since we caught it pretty early. So my grandma has her own little "apartment" downstairs so the door to her place is right next to the couch in our living room so we check on her and everything.
A little over a week ago my grandma fell in her bathroom and hurt her side but she doesn't remember exactly how. So of course we took care of her and gave her a little medicine to help with the pain (she didnt have any bruising) and we started realizing that she was acting a little weird. First off she started sleeping much more which we figured since she was in pain but she also was barely eating. Now she's been having issues with eating since she was diagnosed but she gets full after only eating a few bites of food now.
So now,about 2 days after she fell,I was watching tv in my living room around 1 am and I hear the door open where she stays and says,oh you're still up and I was kinda confused of course but just said yes. She went to the kitchen and tried making her coffee as she would do in the morning,which was of odd.So, I tried telling her how late it was but she just didnt get it and thought it was totally fine so I went up to bed after awhile. I just kept an ear out to see if she was still down there and she was trying to make coffee I believe and kept moving chairs around for about 30 min until i told my mom,so she tried explaining for like 20 min until she finally went back to bed.

Now another night,we were about to have dinner around 5 30 and I saw that all her lights were off in her living room area and saw she was in her bedroom and she was in pajamas so I was confused as she's never done that before either so I told my mom and she ended up telling her that it was dinner time and it wasn't time for bed and she just said okay and came out to eat. That night she went to bed at her normal time around 8 30.

Again,a day or so later my dad said she was out in our kitchen at 5 am making the dogs dinner and looking for food for her to eat saying she thought no one fed them and thought we werent home,he told her the time and she didn't understand so he explained it again for a while and she finally saw how early it was and went back to bed. So now the day after Christmas, we were again about to have dinner at 5,she was changed for bedtime and I tried explaining the time and she got very upset and didn't understand how 5 pm was too early for bed,she said so what if its 5 o'clock and so on. So my brother and mom tried to calmly explain and she ended up yelling and saying get out I'm not eating dinner and that I'm tired and she shut off her lights and she closed the door and we left her alone.

That night around 10:00, my grandma comes out of her room,fully drressd for the day and sits down on our couch in our living room where we were watching tv, my mom asked her if she knew the time and she said no and told her and all she said was okay. My mom had work so she went to bed around 11 and said goodnight to my grandma and she said goodnight and just went back in her room and sat on her couch and took a nap for a while. After that we all went to bed and she was still on the couch around 1 am.
So now today, she had breakfast with my dad while my mom was at work and he went upstairs to shower,I came downstairs around 12 to grab my laundry and her lights were on but her bedroom was dark so I walk by and I hear her snoring and back in her pajamas which she hasnt done this early before,she has napped on her couch but not in bed. It's now 3 30 and she's still in bed,she has her hearing aids out so when I tried asking if she wants some lunch she obviously did not understand me and ignored me and went back to sleep. I left her lights on in her living room so she knows it's daytime but she hasn't gotten out of bed still.
My mom was told by her friend that it could be sundowners but she has only gotten up in the middle of the night twice so far and I don't know much about it but is it every night or just sometimes? I read about it and she does nap ALOT,we try to keep her up but she doesn't like to do anythimg. I've tried coloring with her,watching a movie,playing cards,going for a walk,but she doesn't want to. It's hard because she is stubborn and of course the dementia makes it worse so I just don't know how else to help. Its very hard to get her to eat and to drink water and to get her to do something productive instead of napping so are there any ideas I can maybe try and do you think she does have sundowners? Thank you!
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Registered User
Jan 14, 2010
East Kent
Hello Welcome to TP.
To be honest it sounds to me that your your Grandma has lost / is losing her sense of time rather than Sundowning which is as you may know a time of greater agitation and confusion, though it often happens at sundown , in reality it can occur at any time and often starts at the same time each day.
I'm not sure what to suggest, though I am sure others here will have some good ideas, so do keep an eye on here.


Registered User
Dec 30, 2015
Hello Welcome to TP.
To be honest it sounds to me that your your Grandma has lost / is losing her sense of time rather than Sundowning which is as you may know a time of greater agitation and confusion, though it often happens at sundown , in reality it can occur at any time and often starts at the same time each day.
I'm not sure what to suggest, though I am sure others here will have some good ideas, so do keep an eye on here.
Oh alright that may be right,it's hard to tell because it just started happening and it hasn't been consistent. She will be going to her doctor soon so maybe after he evaluates her that will help us out. Thank you for your thoughts!


Registered User
Nov 7, 2015
My Dad gets like this too. He wants to go to bed at 4pm sometimes and wakes in the night 3 am and wants to get up for the day. My Dad can't really wander as he has Parkinson's too, but his time awareness is really bad. He was diagnosed with Vascular Dementia and they said they don't give medication as it won't help, he gets agitated too, and today's surprise he asked about going to work, he's been retired for 20 years, it took a while to convince him he doesn't need to answer to anyone and is retired.
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Volunteer Moderator
Dec 15, 2012
Hi NeonPink
tricky isn't it when something surprising is said, and believed - you say your dad gets agitated so maybe rather than trying to convince him of his current situation, when to him he's not that old, so can't be retired, just say "it's sunday and how great is that, an extra day to relax so what do you fancy doing, let's have a cuppa and think" (let's face it how many of us have thought it was Monday when it was sunday, and sighed with relief when we realised!) - or whatever is appropriate to the circumstances
I found that most often dad took something like this in and accepted it, then forgot as he was distracted by a choccy biscuit - it gave him time to reorientate himself to the present without getting agitated (which he often did when I tried to 'correct' him)


Registered User
Oct 10, 2015
Hi Cassandra
My dad has been behaving in a similar kind of way in the last couple of weeks, asking for breakfast when it is bed time and asking me if I have just got back from work in the evening (I work mornings). One night at 5.10 AM he called upstairs to ask me if I was ok because I had been a long time up there. I pointed out how early it was and he went back to bed (well arm chair as he won't do bed at the moment). He gets very muddled up with time in the day and will look at his watch showing the correct time in a puzzled way and say he must have misread it. I don't have any magic answers but just calmly tell him the correct time and what the next meal or program is. Some days are better than others.


Registered User
Aug 5, 2015
Buy her a Dayclox clock from Amazon, every review says how helpful they are and my

dad loves his, has done since I first plugged it in. It says the day of the week, the time and the date and the month and year.

They are grounded.

Make a week chart on a drywipe board next to it so they can see what they are doing and when.

I divided one into 8 segments with yellow electrical tape.

One with general, you live here info.

Each other labelled on the yellow tape with a day of the week.

Then you can change the info for each day as needed.

It grounds them and Dad loves it.


Registered User
Jul 20, 2011
hi there and welcome
Just wondering as this behaviour has started quite suddenly and with a fall it would be a really good idea as soon as possible to get your GP to check her for a urinary tract infection or a chest infection but more likely a UTI or you would have spotted it. It is treated with antibiotics. When it happens it causes a lot of confusion very suddenly.

Compassionate communication also really helps - it was a lifesaver for us.

keep posting