1. Our next Q&A session is on the topic of Christmas and dementia.This time we want our Q&A to involve our resident experts, you! Share tips and advice on navigating Christmas here in this thread.

    Pop by and post your questions or if you prefer you can email your question to us at talkingpoint@alzheimers.org.uk and we'll be happy to ask them on your behalf.
  1. MShayne

    MShayne Registered User

    Dec 5, 2013
    7
    Witham Essex
    Hi,
    My husband has had Alzheimers about three years now. I always read Talking Point though I dont usually write in. I must say I've never heard of Sundowning. What is it?
    From the letters today it seems like depression. My husband is morose all the time and
    spends alot of the time laying on his bed. Would that be Sundowning or is that what
    comes in the later stages? Being a carer for someone with Alzheimers is very lonely but
    reading some of your letters makes me realise I'm not alone.x
     
  2. Tin

    Tin Registered User

    May 18, 2014
    4,815
    UK
    My experience of sundowning with my mum who has Vascular Dementia is extreme anxiety, confusion and lots of wandering around the house looking for something and obsession. It usually last about 3 hours and can happen any time during the day although most often it is after a busy day and tiredness can bring it on. Somewhere in this website there is a really good description, I'm sure someone will be along soon with a link for you.

    Don't think what you are experiencing with your husband is sundowning, could it be genuine depression. Have you spoken to his gp. Maybe his medication needs looking at.
     
  3. Chuggalug

    Chuggalug Registered User

    Mar 24, 2014
    8,007
    Norfolk
    Sundowning seems to be a way of expressing certain things that happen at a particular part of the day, usually later in the afternoon and during the evening/night. I found my hubby was the same during the morning as well. Obsessions, wandering, complaining, circular questioning, checking for things that no longer exist, like the car and animals, wanting to know where home is. The list can go on a bit longer than that.

    They say distraction helps, but I never found it so.
     
  4. Ann Mac

    Ann Mac Registered User

    Oct 17, 2013
    3,693
    For my Mum in law, sundowning is a period of intense agitation, usually in the evening, though it can happen at all times during the day. It can last anything from an hour to several hours, with no way of predicting in advance when its going to strike or for how long. She is completely fixated either on going 'home' (though where exactly she thinks 'home' is can vary enormously, sometimes her childhood home in ireland, sometimes the house she lived in for over 50 years, sometimes a place that she has never lived) or on young children - could be a 'little lad', a 'liitle girl' or a 'babby', none of whom actually exist in reality, but that she is convinced have vanished and must be found. Occasionally, other 'delusions' dominate - they can be anything from her worrying about non-existant stolen items, to her being determined that she is 'going for a night out with the girls' and we must let her go NOW! There is no reasoning with her, logic doesn't exist, she can't be distracted by anything we say and even if we try 'love lies', they won't satisfy her. She gets very paranoid, accuses us of kidnapping her or even of killing or harmling the ficticious children, at its worse she will cry, sob, bang on doors and windows, is verbally very rude and aggressive, she swears (a lot!) and has even phoned the police before now.

    The only thing that we find has some success is to break the cycle by asking her/telling her to go to her room - the change of environment and the lack of response when she is by herself can sometimes bring the agitation to a halt.

    Its a horrible, horrible condition to witness - I can't begin to imagine how horrendous it must be to be actually experiencing it :(
     
  5. Casbow

    Casbow Registered User

    Sep 3, 2013
    997
    Colchester
    I really feel for everyone that looks after someone (in my case my husband) who is affected by sundowning. My husband usually starts at about 2 p.m. and it used to last for 2-3 hours. Sometimes he is bad first thing in the morning but that seems to be more about confusion and trying to make out where he is and what he has to do. I was told Sundowning was possibly caused by the person getting agitated and worried at the time of day when they would be busy with getting the children from school,cooking tea,or travelling hiome from work to the family and other things related to late afternoon. Not sure that is the same for all sundowning. My husband paces backwards and forwards' moves things about, breathes fast and gets in a terrible state of unrest. When I ask him why he can't keep still he says its the others telling him what to do.
    I therefore don't think your husband is sundowning but feel that it may be depression and/or just a symptom of being shut in a world where nothing makes sense in your head and leaves them in deep thought and puzzlement.I am so sorry for all of us who have to care for someone with awful illness. Life is not very happy anymore,
     
  6. truth24

    truth24 Registered User

    Oct 13, 2013
    5,725
    North Somerset
    For us, sundowning started regularly at about 4 pm. Never quite understood whether it was caused by lessening of the light or just tiredness. In an instant Fred would go from being fairly sociable to this restless creature who paced the house opening and shutting doors, switching lights on, refusing to eat meals with me and being quite verbally abusive. That would last for most of the night with the odd break for a quick doze. He was, at that time, generally 'OK' again in the morning. Learned to have our main meal at lunchtime and to make things like Eye Hospital appts at around mid-day in case there were long delays. Had at least one occasion when he refused to get off the bus at our stop, much to the annoyance of some passengers and sympathy from others. It's difficult but very common. I think that the staff at Fred's CH find it a very hard when many of the residents start to get agitated at the same time. I think a couple of paracetamol tablets can help to reduce the agitation if your OH will take them but you would need to discuss this with your GP.
     
  7. cragmaid

    cragmaid Registered User

    Oct 18, 2010
    7,942
    North East England
    Hello, reading your post, it strikes me that your OH is showing signs of Depression rather than Sundowning. Sundowning generally presents as an irrational need to perform a particular action at a similar time every day....eg in Mum's case it revolved about her need to go to the Church Social every evening about 5 pm. She would put on her shoes and dark coat, pack her purse, keys etc in her handbag and off she'd wander in the dark.
    We established that the Church Social she was going to was a weekly event during her teenage years, but Mum was unable to apply rational discrimination to her actions....so we had a form of neighbourhood watch kick in and a network of her friends used to look out for her, ring me and I'd retrieve her.

    Later on, when she lived in the CH she developed a depression which caused her to spend a huge amount of time, lying on her bed not communicating, not watching the TV, not participating in activities....She was started on anti-deperessants which eventually lifted her mood.

    Have a word with OH's GP. Take care and Keep posting, Love Maureen.x.
     

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