06/19/2009 - Questions and Answers


By: Mark Castleden



What is sundowning?


To quote the Geriatric's Review Syllabus from the American Geriatric Society, sundowning is a behavioural disorder associated with an increase in confusion and agitation that occurs in evening hours. Although sometimes considered synonymous, the term sundowning, when applied to institutionalised demented patients who are medically stable, has a slightly different meaning. Worsening evening behaviour in such instances may reflect impaired sleep regulation or nocturnal factors in the institutionalised environment (e.g. shift changes, fewer staff on hand) that reduce the staff's ability to effectively handle agitation.

Other causes of apparent sundowning include depression.

Created on: 04/14/2000
Reviewed on: 06/19/2009

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