Feeling Sad? Scared? What To Know About Sundowner’s Syndrome

Dealing with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease is incredibly difficult: you might be both going through many changes as the disease progresses, and also feeling afraid of losing your memory. The behavioral changes that come with these conditions might be accompanied by feeling sad, irritated, scared, delusional, or even hallucinations, feelings that get worse at night. These are actually quite common symptoms of sundowner’s syndrome, which can be a distressing part of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, and while you cannot reverse dementia or Alzheimer’s, there are some lifestyle changes and medications that can help alleviate the symptoms of sundowner’s syndrome. 

What Is Sundowning or Sundowner’s Syndrome?

Sundowner’s syndrome is not a disease, rather it is a group of symptoms exhibited by people diagnosed with dementia and Alzheimer’s. This syndrome is so named because the symptoms occur as the sun sets, and get worse at night. Sundowner’s syndrome usually begins later in the afternoon, and can last into the night, and so is also called late-day confusion. 

Doctors and researchers are not sure what causes sundowner’s syndrome, but they believe there are various factors that contribute to it. Mainly, they believe that the syndrome occurs because of all the sensory stimulation built up over the course of the day, which can become very overwhelming, causing patients to become irritated, confused, and act out. Other factors might include: stress and anxiety and other words in a person silhouette with a clock behind the person

  • Hormonal imbalances that occur at night, affecting your natural circadian rhythm 
  • Anxiety caused by the inability to see well in the dark
  • Changes in melatonin levels affecting your internal body clock
  • Reduced lighting affecting you see shadows and objects around you
  • Too much or too little light
  • Sleep problems, such as too little sleep or disturbed sleep
  • Difficulty distinguishing dreams from reality when sleeping
  • A loss of routine
  • Reduced sight and hearing
  • Prescription medication wearing off toward the end of the day

Sundowner’s Syndrome Symptoms

If you have an episode of sundowner’s syndrome, you will exhibit certain behaviors and express certain emotions, including:

  • Anger
  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Emotional outbursts
  • Delusions and hallucinations
  • Reduced attention levels
  • Fear
  • Depression
  • Stubbornness and being demanding
  • Restlessness
  • Rocking
  • Visual and auditory hallucinations
  • Pacing and wandering
  • Paranoia and suspiciousness 
  • Violence
  • Mood changes
  • Crying
  • Insomnia
  • Yelling or screaming
  • Shadowing

Managing Sundowner’s Syndrome

Experiencing the aforementioned symptoms and changes can be difficult for both the person going through it and their caregivers. But there are some things that can be done to help manage the syndrome, including making lifestyle changes like:notebook open wit a list in it and a hand holding a pen

  • Developing a daily routine– Routines are important for older patients, not only to help keep you on track throughout the day, but also to help alleviate the anxiety that can occur as the sun begins to set. 
  • Taking walks– Going for an evening walk can help reduce restlessness. 
  • Changing your diet– Sweets and caffeine during the middle of the day or evening can interrupt sleep. Snack light and try to limit sugar, caffeine, and heavy meals to earlier in the day. 
  • Avoiding daytime naps– Unless they seem to help, try to avoid midday naps, which can cause sleep issues at night.
  • Increasing light– To prevent shadows that can cause anxiety, fear, or delusions, try to keep rooms well-lit. 

Medications & Natural Remedies To Consider

There are a number of medications that can help manage sundowner’s syndrome, although they are not guaranteed to work. You can try:

  • Cholinesterase inhibitors, such as donepezil, which reduce cognitive decline in people with Alzheimer’s disease
  • NMDA receptor agonists, such as memantine hydrochloride, which aim to slow the brain damage responsible for Alzheimer’s symptoms
  • Melatonin supplements or light therapy to help balance your sleep-wake cycle
  • Antipsychotic medications to manage delusions and hallucinations

If you are seeking more natural remedies, consider:

  • Light therapy- Talk to your doctor about a high-quality lightbox that might help you
  • Music therapy– Listening to music, playing instruments, and dancing can be soothing
  • Aromatherapy- Scents like lemon balm, lavender, and cedar can help relax and calm youpaintbrush on a painted canvas
  • Multisensory stimulation- This includes painting and other forms of art therapy
  • Simulated presence therapy– Playing a video or recording of a loved one can help bring comfort and calmness

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms and it is becoming too much, reach out and ask for help. Contact your doctor and see if there is anything you can do to lessen the severity of the symptoms, and help calm you down towards the evening; you can also seek out some natural remedies to help manage the symptoms. And if you do decide to see the doctor or opt for medications, it is important to make sure Medicare will cover the costs, since worrying about medical bills, or not seeking help because of the cost of treatment, will not help you get better. 

If you are interested in reviewing Medicare options in your area to see if you can find better coverage and save more money, we can help you. EZ can compare all available plans in your area for free- no hassle and no obligation. To get free instant quotes for plans that cover your current doctors, simply enter your zip code in the bar on the side, or to speak to a licensed agent, call 888-753-7207.

Why You Might Have No Appetite Lately

As you get older, you might find that you don’t have as big of an appetite as you once did, and that you eat less than you used to. This is actually a normal part of the aging process, but if you are losing a significant amount of weight because of your loss of appetite, it could mean that you have an underlying issue, such as a stomach virus, or worse, In fact, studies show that a 10% loss of overall body weight is linked to a higher mortality rate just six months after the initial weight loss. This is why it is important to know why you might have no appetite lately, and what you can do about it, so you can live a long, healthy life. 

Causes Of Loss Of Appetite

If you have no urge to eat, no sensation of hunger, or are experiencing any bloating, pain, or are nauseated at the thought of food, there is probably a reason behind it: 

Medical Causes

There could be a medical reason behind your loss of appetite, including:female doctor checking an older woman's throat

  • Thyroid disorders– Medications that treat hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism can cause a loss of appetite.
  • Dementia or Alzheimer’s Weight loss and appetite loss are common in Alzheimer’s patients; if you are forgetting to eat, speak to your doctor.
  • Kidney failure– One of the symptoms of kidney disease is reduced appetite.
  • Hepatitis– One of the symptoms associated with hepatitis inflammation of the liver is loss of appetite
  • COPD– Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease causes changes in hormones that can lead to loss of appetite.
  • Cancer- Some cancers, particularly ovarian, pancreatic, lung, and stomach cancers will suppress your appetite, along with other symptoms such as fatigue.
  • Addison’s disease and Cushing’s syndrome– Both of these endocrine disorders will cause loss of appetite.
  • HIV

Psychological Causes

Your mental and emotional health can take a toll on your appetite as well. Many older adults will experience a loss of appetite when they are stressed or when dealing with other issues such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders


three pills of different sizes
Different medications can be the cause of appetite loss.

A lot of medications can cause appetite loss, or change your appetite. They can reduce feelings of hunger, make you more nauseous, and even change your sense of smell or taste. Medications that can cause a loss of appetite include:

  • Antidepressants
  • Antibiotics
  • Chemotherapy
  • Immunotherapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Thyroid medications
  • Pain relievers such as codeine 

Natural Remedies To Increase Appetite

There are some natural remedies and lifestyle changes that can help increase your appetite. For example, did you know that when you eat with other people, you tend to eat more than when eating by yourself? Try eating with friends or family when you can; you can also try the following:

  • Eat less fiber– Sure, fiber has a lot of health benefits, but eating too much of it can lead to appetite loss, as well as weight loss since it helps you stay fuller longer.multiple Z's going upward
  • Get more sleep– When your body’s circadian rhythm is regulated, your appetite will be as well. Try to have a regular sleep schedule and see if it helps.
  • Regulate your temperature – If you live in a hot environment, try to stay cool as much as possible. Heat can decrease your appetite so stay cool by drinking cold liquids and wearing lightweight clothing.

When To Seek Help

If you are experiencing a loss of appetite and it is resulting in weight loss, it is important to seek medical attention, especially if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms:

  • Nausea
  • Bloating
  • Indigestion
  • Blood in your stool
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation

It is important to see a doctor so they can determine if there are any underlying causes behind your appetite loss. And if you are taking medication that is resulting in consistent loss of appetite, call your doctor and schedule an appointment to see if there are any other medications you can take.

Not eating as much as you get older is quite normal, but if it starts to seem like an issue, and if you are losing too much weight, or are experiencing any of the aforementioned issues, you should speak to your doctor. There can be many reasons why you’re not feeling hungry; it’s important to find out what’s going on, so you can deal with it properly instead of allowing whatever the issue is to get worse and threaten your health. 

Remember, when you see the doctor, you will have out-of-pocket expenses, such as your Part B deductible and your 20% Part B coinsurance, which can add up to a lot, so it’s definitely worth looking into a Medicare Supplement Plan to save as much money as you can. Come to EZ and talk to one of our agents: we work with the top-rated insurance companies in the nation and can compare plans in minutes for you at no cost. To get free instant quotes for plans that cover your current doctors, simply enter your zip code in the bar on the side, or to speak to a licensed agent, call 888-753-7207.