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What is sundowning syndrome?

If you have an elderly loved one, you may notice many behaviors or changes in him or her with age. You may even have to put your loved one in a nursing home because he or she requires care you can no longer handle. There are also some conditions that may come with age that make life hard for your loved one and for you or his or her caregiver. One such condition is sundowning syndrome.

Sundowning syndrome, according to WebMD, is very common with Alzheimer's patients but also may occur in older adults. It brings about changes in a person's mood, behavior and physical condition when the sun goes down. While it is not known exactly what causes it, there is a belief that it is directly related to the change in light. Symptoms usually begin once the sun goes down and stop when the sun rises. Experts think there may be a link to the body's internal clock and its effects on the brain.

Symptoms of the condition include an increase in confusion, agitation and irritability. It also may increase behaviors, such as mood swings, pacing and delusions.

There is no cure for this condition, but you can manage the symptoms. Often the syndrome occurs in people who are not content or happy. A person who experiences the condition may feel bored, sleepy, hungry or depressed. Pain also is a cause. Doing what you can to keep your loved one engaged, happy and feeling well can go a long way to preventing or at least managing sundowning syndrome. This information is for education. It is not legal advice.

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