Background: Sundown syndrome is an important care issue for people with dementia (PwD) and for family caregivers. Walking is a safe and simple physical activity for most PwD, yet no research has explored the effects of different long-term walking periods on sundown syndrome. Objectives: This study aimed to determine the effects of walking on sundown syndrome, and to identify whether different walking time periods would show different effects on sundown syndrome in community-dwelling people with Alzheimer's disease. Methods: A quasi-experimental designed study with repeated measurements was conducted. Sixty PwD were recruited and assigned to either the control group or the morning or afternoon walking group according to their caregiver's preference. The participants in the two walking groups completed an average of 120-min walking per week, accompanied by their caregivers. Forty-six achieved the 6-month intervention. Four measurements were taken, one at the pretest and one at weeks 8, 16 and 24. The Chinese version of the Cohen-Mansfield Agitation Inventory, community form (C-CMAI) was used to assess the severity of the sundown syndrome. The generalised estimating equation (GEE) was applied for the longitudinal data analysis. Results: There was a significant change across the study period (p =.048) in the morning walking group, indicating that the score for sundown syndrome decreased when PwD walked in the morning. Considering group effects, compared to the control group, the C-CMAI scores significantly decreased after 16 weeks of walking in the afternoon walking group (p =.001) and after 24 weeks in both the morning and afternoon walking groups (p =.001), indicating that after PwD had walked for 16 weeks, sundown syndrome ameliorated in the afternoon group and continually decreased after 24 weeks in both the morning and afternoon groups. However, there was no significant group difference between the morning and afternoon walking groups during the 24-week walking intervention. Conclusions: The results indicated that both morning walking and afternoon walking are beneficial for ameliorating the symptoms of sundown syndrome; however, walking in the afternoon may have a faster effect on the symptoms than walking in the morning. Walking is a safe, simple, feasible and effective intervention to benefit individuals with sundown syndrome. Implications for practice: Regularly walking for 30 min a day, four times a week, is beneficial to alleviate sundown syndrome among PwD living in the community. Either morning or afternoon walking is effective for decreasing sundown syndrome, and the longer the walking time, the greater the impact on sundown syndrome.
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