AS the nights begin to draw in, many of us exclaim our surprise, despite the fact it happens every year. But for people with dementia when the clocks change and go back an hour, it may well cause more than just surprise.

People with dementia can find themselves particularly disorientated by the change.

People’s responses will vary – some people with dementia may find this upsetting and become tearful, whereas others may become angry or agitated, and still others might respond in a more light-hearted way.

Others may not even notice that much. It will of course depend on the individual. The main difficulty is that people with dementia might experience an increase in ‘sundowning’ when the days get shorter.

This can be seen as changes in the person’s behaviour in the later afternoon or towards the end of the day. During this time, the person may become intensely distressed or confused or have hallucinations or delusions.

The fact that the mornings are darker may well have an effect too, as someone with dementia may find it difficult to differentiate between, say, 6am and 6pm. Having a routine during the day and at bedtime can help when a person’s body clock doesn’t work as well as it should.

If you’re affected by dementia, call Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Connect support line on 0333 150 3456 for information, advice and support or visit

Steve Green

Alzheimer’s Society area manager for Merseyside