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Understanding Dementia: What is Sundowning?


Caring for those living with dementia means dealing with a number of various symptoms and behaviours that can affect their health and safety. One of these symptoms is known as ‘sundowning’. Sundowning describes the feelings of restlessness, confusion, and even aggression, that can be exhibited by dementia patients in the late afternoon or early evening. According to the Alzheimer Society of Canada, it is thought that sundowning can affect as many as 66% of people with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias. Sundowning is most common in the middle stages of the disease, though it can occur at any time. It can be exhausting for the patient, as well as for their caregiver.

Some behaviours typical with sundowning can include:

  • Becoming demanding or aggressive
  • Experiencing delusions and hallucinations.
  • Pacing or wandering
  • Doing impulsive things
  • Attempting to leave home
  • Having difficulty understanding others
  • Having difficulty doing tasks that were done without difficulty earlier in the day

Our Richmond Care Home specializes in dementia care so we are well acquainted with sundowning and the impact this has on our residents and staff. In partnership with esprit-ai, a west Ottawa company that uses 5G technology to keep seniors safe, we have been using a system of electronic sensors to monitor the nighttime activities of our Richmond Care Home residents.

The sensors monitor when a resident gets out of bed, moves around their room, or opens the door. This data is sent to esprit-ai, who will analyze it and contact the nighttime staff if required. Having access to this data is incredibly helpful in tracking any patterns of behaviour in our residents, enabling us to adjust their routines and medications accordingly. For instance, if we are aware that a resident has been particularly restless throughout the night, we can watch them the next day knowing they will be tired and at a higher risk of falls.

Our Richmond Care Home is a unique 16-unit residence that caters to women living with dementia. Our staff are knowledgeable about dementia behaviours and are well-trained to provide your mom with the care and attention she deserves. For you, it’s peace of mind that costs far less than most memory care retirement homes. For more information, or to book a tour, please contact our supervisor, Jasmine Sears, by calling (613) 617-2187 or by email at