What’s it mean?

That term almost sounds like code for a new street drug. Or a pre-dinner drink.

For caregivers, sundowning occurs almost on cue every single day.

Sundowners is a frustrating syndrome manifesting at twilight. It’s that difficult time of day when the Alzheimer’s-afflicted begin to exhibit particular repetitive behaviors and it continues sometimes until morning.

Fear. Anxiety. Re-lived grief. Episodes of past pain. Attempts to go “home.”

For my mom, twilight signals that it’s time to search for her beloved (not alive) dogs (among other things.) But, because insomnia is typical, some days she’s searching until early hours of the morning then sleeping until noon.

I think mom searches for the dogs because she’s searching for what used to be her source of comfort. We’ve tried to soothe her with stuffed animals but they don’t lavish her with the wet  kisses she yearns for.

FYI, I chatted with her doctor about her escapism and the doctor chatted with my dad. We all agree that safety is paramount and locks are now in place.

Since PAD—Poem-A-Day—continues to mess with occupy my time, I’m double-dipping and using one of my poems from that challenge for this challenge.


Sundowning. Write it out. The good, the bad, the ugly. Rhyme or no rhyme. Post yours not. Either way, your nerves will thank you. (I wish I could get my dad on board. I think he might feel better.)

Before I post my poem, I’m giving another plug for Understanding Dementia, the free on-line MOOC course by University of Tasmania. It’s all on-line and you move at your own pace. Do a unit a day or the entire week in one morning, like me.


golden-retriever-dogsKaren Arnold


“Dogs of Yesteryear”

After he locks the doors and the night settles around him like a thick taste of black licorice, and his feet
are bound between oak and cotton, and his teeth are still rattling in the glass in the bathroom, she lifts the chain, her nightgown in a shimmy to her knees, one sneaker untied, right foot on the concrete cold and entertaining. Gray-teethed callings and a midnight romp to the park, a twirl around the merry-go-round while searching for the lost dogs whose bones reside in a jar in a box in the basement in a layer of dust.

The chill is in the empty calls.

The joy is in play of lost memories and mind.

But fear is mine alone to tarnish when she wanders far from home.

* * *


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