Our post last week on “sundowning” — a syndrome in which seniors’ behavior changes dramatically after dark — generated an outpouring of stories from patients, caregivers and people working in hospitals, in hundreds of comments on Facebook.
Many brought up the fact that delirium and sundowning are related. While sundowning is thought to happen in elderly patients with advanced dementia, many people described seeing sundowning in others — like a relative after surgery. While experts aren’t sure how much sundown syndrome and delirium overlap, they agree that not everyone who gets confused at night is sundowning.
Delirium is very common and also gets worse at night. So the first time someone experiences delirium they should be checked for underlying and reversible causes like infections or mind-altering medications.
People also pointed out that sundowning can happen at home as well as in the hospital. For people with severe dementia like Alzheimer’s, this is especially true.
Some commenters referenced “The Visit,” a recently released horror movie where two children are visiting their elderly grandparents who exhibit erratic and violent behavior each night. I haven’t seen it myself, but it seems to be taking the concept to the extreme in the most frightening way possible.
Many of the stories on Facebook were particularly moving. We thought we’d share a few: Continue reading