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)


Categories: Caring for Parents,Il's Blog

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7s Comments

  1. Profile photo of Kathy

    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.

  2. Profile photo of ejourneys

    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.

  3. Profile photo of Il

    Hey EJ I never thought of it as Sundowning until the term was mentioned more and more in dementia. (((((hugs )))) back! Nope not any particular time of the day nor due to stress that I can see. EJ can your partner express to you when she is stressed? My parents don’t to me and I’m constantly trying to second guess what the ’cause’ is . . or maybe that’s a ‘lost cause’???


    • Profile photo of Il

      Oh Lord EJ I just read your post I’m on overload . . ‘sorry’ ( I know not sorry :) ) and I’m just religious about coffee at Peets at 11am every day I have an alarm on this machine per the ‘deadline!’ and for going to farmer’s market to get flowers . . for others I hope that helps . . put in your ‘task reminder’ what helps you! xxoox il

  4. Profile photo of Denise

    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!!

  5. Profile photo of Il

    Thanks Denise! Mom is sundowning right now and I’m trying to breaaaaaaathhhhhhe and read this! I love that pic of the ducks too! We have briefs from North Shore the challenge is getting her to change them . . The Sea of Pee blog is hysterical and true because the conversation goes I’m not wet I wasn’t the one who pooped I don’t need to change etc etc. Dad won’t take help just offered so thank you so much Denise I hope you’re not exhausted by my saying I’ve tried that . .any other ideas?? Will read that link . . and hope you keep blogging. I ‘enjoyed’ your blog not that I want you to have hard times but I enjoy getting to know you. xxooxoo il


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