Railroading Into “Sundowning”

West Easton Railroad Bridge
West Easton Railroad Bridge (Photo credit: robotbrainz)

Lately I’ve been exposed to the formal term of sundowning, so I’m sure I’m not alone in wondering what the heck is going on with my parents at about 4 o’clock in the afternoon.  At that time, my father becomes unbelievably agitated toward my mom and she to him, or she takes what I’ve seen as abuse, or I hear from my father that I’m imagining something that I know he said. He is adamant that I don’t take care of them, but I do.

During the day he is wonderful, but these “mood shocks” (a.k.a. trauma to me ) are so hard to see coming, if at all.  I wonder if sundowning applies to the morning as well, when Dad screams at Mom that the bed is wet and she screams back that she didn’t do it, and the swearing continues.  I can’t keep leaving the house for my sanity when this happens or I’ll really burn out and take things personally.  So I wonder how to make a schedule around this sundowning :) and follow self-help guidelines. With that I’m going to go have my coffee time.

Huh, this pic of the Swans just appeared. Check out the title! Always, il.

Embarrassing parents - swan duckling
Embarrassing parents – swan duckling (Photo credit: @Doug88888)


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7 Comments on "Railroading Into “Sundowning”"

Profile photo of Kathy
Jul 5, 2013

Perhaps separate beds for them?
And yes, sundowning, can actually occur at any time. Mostly towards the evening, hence the name. I just call it melt down for Hubby. It happens unannounced and at varying degrees.

Profile photo of ejourneys
Jul 5, 2013

I never thought of it as sundowning, but my partner decompensates a lot when she feels stressed. It doesn’t seem to be tied to any particular time of day. I think it’s a combination of weather and other factors — hard to tell with her MS, too.

Yay for coffee time! 😀 And for grabbing the moment.

Profile photo of Denise
Jul 6, 2013

Hi Il–This article may help you with some of the challenging behavior: http://helpguide.org/elder/alzheimers_behavior_problems.htm

My dad was (is but a little mellower) a yeller. My experience is that the yelling is about fear–fear of not knowing how to help, what to do, what the change means, the change. I would imagine your father feels just as overwhelmed by your mom’s care so copes with his fear the only way he knows of–by yelling.

I’m wondering if you could help your mom with her incontinence by getting her into better adult diapers. I know your dad likes to be in charge. I wonder if you said to him, “You take a break right now. I’ll help Mom in the bathroom” and then help her by making sure she wears her incontinence briefs.

(You can call NorthShore Supply Co., one of our sponsors, for help with incontinence supplies. They’ll send samples so you can figure out which ones work. http://northshorecare.com/)

I love that picture of the ducks!!