Has your wife been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease? This is very common with AD. The mind goes back in time and her memories would be of a home where perhaps you two lived in your early marriage or even her childhood home, therefore she doesn't feel she's "at home."
Early evening confusion is often called "sundowning" and the person can be very anxious and harder to manage. Researchers still struggle with exact causes of this but it seems to tie in with the need to "wind up to day", therefore to "do something" but they don't know what.
You wife's doctor should be updated on these changes if he or she is not already. There may be help available. Please check in with medical professionals.
If your wife has been diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer's, then this is normal in her routine. It is called sundowning. This is common for the patient to feel depressed at sunset. One reason is that it gets dark by sunset (not so bad now in the summer daylight saving time) and it is also due to a long day given that she may be tired by sunset.
When she says she wants to go home, it is just figure speech. It is not exactly going home. She may just need to know the routine. e.g., if she goes out for an appointment, you may need to walk her around the house a bit to make her realize she is at home. It does not matter if she knows it is her home. Sometimes she may think about her childhood home so it is not about the present home. It is more about getting lost. Just try to make her feel at ease and feel complete after an outing. My father-in-law does not know where he is anymore but he just needs the routine. He has late Alzheimer's.
For the darkness, you may also turn on the lights in the house after dark so she will feel more secure. Close the curtain and etc. It is about her bilological clock in her brain - she does not understand it is night time now. She is afraid of darkness too. My FIL is afraid of the dark too so we also closed the curtains and turned on the light at home. (He just went to a residential home last summer.)
Also serve her supper at sunset can distract her as well.
There is lots of info. about sundowning in Mayo Clinic and other Alzheimer's websites.
I'd like to echo what Carol has written. I'd also suggest that you consider some sort of tracking system, such as one of the ones chronicled in this article, just in case she leaves the house without your knowledge and gets lost.
Take care and keep us posted!
Not only is it common for the person with Alzheimer's disease to be confused about where "home" is, but it is also quite common to be more confused and disoriented at night. When your wife is asking to go home, try to think about it from a different perspective: that she is trying to express to you something but is not able to do so properly. Ask yourself what does "home" represent? For many, it means safety, security, familiarity, and comfort. At nighttime, with the decrease in light, activity, and stimulation, she is further confused and disoriented because she cannot engage as much as she does during the day. At night, try behavioral interventions and communication techniques that can help your wife feel secure and comforted. Validate her feelings ("I know you want to be home, it's such a special place for you") and find ways to comfort her, perhaps with a cherished blanket, a cup of tea, or soft music. Also, be sure to bring this issue up to her physician, who may be able to offer some other treatment options.
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