Understanding Sundowning and When to Seek Support: Guidance from a Minnesota Elder Lawyer

Aug 15, 2023 | Elder Law

As an elder lawyer serving Minnesota, I often counsel families grappling with the challenges of caring for a loved one with dementia. A common and particularly distressing symptom of dementia is sundowning, characterized by increased confusion, agitation, and restlessness during the late afternoon and evening. Understanding what happens during sundowning and when to seek support can help caregivers provide the best care for their loved ones.

What Happens During Sundowning?

During episodes of sundowning, a person with dementia may display a range of behaviors. They might appear confused, anxious, or agitated. They may pace, wander, or have trouble sleeping. Some individuals become increasingly demanding or suspicious, and in some cases, these behaviors can escalate into aggression. These behaviors often peak in the late afternoon and evening, and then improve by morning.

When to Consider In-Home Care or Nursing Home Care

While some families can manage sundowning with strategies like maintaining a regular routine, increasing daytime activity, and creating a calming evening environment, there comes a time when the caregiver’s ability to provide care may be overwhelmed. Here are some signs that it might be time to consider in-home care or nursing home care:

  • Increasing Care Needs: If your loved one’s care needs are increasing to the point where it’s difficult for you to manage along with your other responsibilities, it might be time to consider additional support.
  • Aggressive Behavior: If your loved one becomes aggressive, it can be challenging and potentially dangerous to manage without professional help.
  • Caregiver Stress: If you’re feeling overwhelmed, burnt out, or your own health is suffering, it’s essential to consider getting help.
  • Safety Concerns: If your loved one is wandering, falling, or having other safety issues, a more supervised environment or additional support may be necessary.

Consult with a Minnesota Elder Lawyer

Deciding to seek additional support or considering nursing home care is a significant decision that often involves complex legal and financial considerations. As an elder lawyer in Minnesota, I can help guide you through this process and ensure you understand all your options.

You don’t have to navigate these challenging decisions alone. Reach out to our law firm at 763-244-2949 for support and advice tailored to your family’s situation.