Is There Guided Imagery For An Aunt With Dementia And Sundown Syndrome?


My 86-yr old aunt is in the middle stages of Alzheimer's. She lives in a nearby assisted living facility and I, along with two other sisters, are her family caregivers. As the Alzheimer's progresses she is becoming more anxious (Sundowner's Syndrome) and depressed. I have used several of your guided imagery recordings over the years to help me and I was wondering if there is something you could recommend to ease her depression and anxiety. She was a music teacher in the past and yet I can't get her interested in listening to music to help relax her. I am hoping that listening to a human voice at night might bring her some comfort. Is there anything you can recommend?

Many thanks!

Dear Charlotte,

You are a good niece! ☺

We've been getting a lot of queries lately about Sundown Syndrome – three this week alone... makes me wonder if there wasn't some recent national media attention on it.

In any case, there's some excellent information (that you've probably already found) on the Mayo Clinic's website, with a good list of tips for caregivers.

Sometimes guided imagery can be very helpful for Sundown Syndrome in mid-stage Alzheimer's patients, but not always - it's possible (though not likely) it could create more agitation. So it's best to start out with just a few minutes of one to assess the impact before springing for a bunch of these.

I'd recommend starting with the Healthful Sleep imagery first - both voice and music are especially soothing on this recording, and the images are very supportive, protective and reassuring. See what happens. If it helps, stick with it, making sure it gets played at roughly the same time each late afternoon or evening. Routine and structure help!

If it looks like she likes it but the impact is wearing off, you could try another - perhaps the Panic Attack imagery, which is also particularly soothing with arguably Steve Kohn's most calming music. The music alone can be found on Steve's Meditative Reflections - a wonderful, stand-alone piece that I personally like to play while I'm working on a difficult piece of writing. (Great for writer's twitchiness syndrome!)

You may also want to try a man's voice, to see if she likes that even better. If so, I'd recommend David Illig's Calm & Relaxed.

I hope this helps. Best wishes to you all.


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