MIND in memory care
Moving In Nurturing Directions in Memory Care

Cindy's Blog


We've often heard the term "sundowning" used to describe the animated behaviors of some people with dementia, usually at the end of the afternoon and early evening hours. This can involve agitation, restlessness, combativeness, refusals to sit down and eat and a host of other behaviors. There are no widely accepted answers as to why this occurs in some people with dementia and several theories have been proposed. Some believe that when the sun goes down it triggers these behaviors in some people, or that it's a disruption of the sleep-wake cycle clock in the brain. Others think it is linked to fatigue, but it presents significant problems for the caregivers of those elders. I have not seen any studies come out about this disorder until recently in Medical News Today (https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/229757.php) where Tracy Bedrosian at Ohio State University conducted studies with mice that showed sundowning-type behaviors had a biological basis. They found higher levels of an enzyme called acetylcholinesterase, as well as differences in two other proteins in the brains of the aged mice exhibiting the symptoms of sundowning. This is good news because it means there is a good chance it can be successfully treated if the cause is biologically based. While it would be years before the leap from mice to men could occur with any treatment, to me it's very hopeful that they're even working on this problem and that they may have found a starting point for treatment in the mice.

Alzheimer's and Dementia Counseling and Education
call Cindy Keith of M.I.N.D. in Memory Care