Dementia is a term used for a range of conditions that affect the brain. Each of these conditions prevents the brain cells — or neurons — from functioning properly, which will affect their memory, thoughts, and speech. The most common types of dementia are Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, frontotemporal dementia, and Lewy body dementia.
The typical symptoms of dementia are memory loss, confusion, and problems with speech and understanding, and these get progressively worse over time.
According to Dementia UK, some patients will experience a phenomenon known as “sundowning”.
This refers to a change in behavior in the evening.
The charity explains: “Sundowning is a term used for behavioral changes that occur in the evening, around dusk.
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“Some people with dementia currently experience a growing sense of agitation or anxiety.
“At sunset, the person with dementia often feels very strongly that they are in the wrong place.
“They may say they have to go home even though they’re at home, or they have to pick up the kids from school even though they’re adults now.”
Other sunset symptoms may include yelling or arguing, pacing or getting confused about who people are or what’s going on around them.
Dementia UK advises:
- Follow a daily routine with activities the person likes
- Try to limit their intake of caffeinated and alcoholic drinks
- Try to limit naps during the day to encourage them to sleep well at night
- Close the curtains and turn on the lights before dusk to ease the transition to nighttime
- Cover mirrors, windows and glass doors if possible
- Avoid large meals in the evening
- Introduce an evening routine of activities the person enjoys, but try putting television or radio stations on something calm and quiet.
Dementia is most common in people over the age of 65, but it can occur at any age.