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AARP Expert

Managing Sundowners Syndrome: #3 Simplify Surroundings


Too much sensory stimulation can cause anxiety and confusion for someone experiencing Sundowners Syndrome, and it can be worsened by changing light and perhaps changes in routine or normal transitions from daytime activities to evening activities. It’s important to keep your loved ones’ environment, in every room, simpler and calmer. That's why my 4th tip is:


Simplify Your Loved Ones’ Surroundings


What may seem perfectly normal and has “always been that way” can become too much for them. It can be difficult for them to see and interpret so many things– it’s just too much sensory input for their brains to manage. When they start to get anxious due to light changes or transitions, the environmental clutter suddenly becomes too much too! The idea is to keep things cognitively manageable. Here are some things to look for and do:

  • Try to minimize physical, visual and auditory clutter in every room. Try fewer items on open shelves, eliminate clutter on the floor, perhaps reduce the amount of furniture. Turn down the loud TV or switch to something that is more calming like a musical program or TV show that doesn’t have many loud moments.
  • Pay special attention to the rooms your loved one is in when sundowning starts to occur.
  • If your loved ones are having trouble going to sleep or has days and nights mixed up, be sure to de-clutter and simplify their bedrooms.

Doing these things helped my Dad when he was experiencing Sundowners, I hope they will help yours! Tell us about your efforts to de-clutter and simplify your loved ones’ environment!


Take care,

Amy Goyer, AARP Family & Caregiving Expert

Author, Juggling Life, Work and Caregiving

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