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How to Manage Sleep Issues for Seniors with Alzheimer’s

How to Manage Sleep Issues for Seniors with Alzheimer’s

How to Manage Sleep Issues for Seniors with Alzheimer’s

Sleep disturbances are a common symptom in patients living with Alzheimer’s disease. The issues with sleep occur mostly during end-stage Alzheimer’s but have occurred with early-onset patients too. Learn how to manage sleep issues in seniors with Alzheimer’s and help them get adequate rest.

How does Alzheimer’s cause sleep problems?

Although changes to the sleep cycle commonly occur in seniors with Alzheimer’s disease, scientists are not completely sure as to why this happens. The disease’s impact on the brain is thought to be the primary culprit. Excessive sleeping may be caused by the following factors.

Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative brain disease characterized by the loss of brain cells. The resulting memory loss is the most recognizable symptom of Alzheimer’s. As the brain becomes progressively damaged, the senior may feel the compulsion to lie down and rest.

Brain cell death contributes to muscle weakness and reduced movement. The Alzheimer’s patient becomes inactive and, as a consequence, may resort to resting more. Reduced foot intake can also contribute to lethargy as can the depressive symptoms that accompany Alzheimer’s.

What types of sleep issues can occur?

Difficulty staying asleep is a major challenge not only for the Alzheimer’s patient but the caregiver. When the affected senior cannot remain asleep, he may wander, yell, call out or be unable to lie still. Seniors with Alzheimer’s also stay up longer at night or wake up more often.

The wakefulness-nighttime sleep pattern is also disrupted. Alzheimer’s patients may remain extremely drowsy during the day and, as a direct consequence, be unable to sleep at night. In the late stages of the disease, they spend most of their time awake in bed at night and spend the day asleep.

What are effective ways to manage sleep?

Before starting on a regimen to improve sleep, it’s important for the senior’s doctor to rule out any factors contributing to the sleep issues. Sleep problems may worsen with restless leg syndrome or sleep apnea, both of which produce symptoms that can be relieved with treatment.

Medical experts encourage the use of non-drug treatments, as opposed to drug therapies, to improve sleep in seniors with Alzheimer’s. Sleep medications are linked with an increase in falls, so the risks outweigh the benefits. Plus, these drugs generally do not improve sleep quality.

1. Follow a routine

Routines are known to be beneficial for Alzheimer’s patients. Caregivers should establish a regular schedule for meals as well as bedtime and waking. When preparing for bedtime, caregivers might help the senior promote sleep and relax by reading out loud.

2. Limit device usage

While the senior is preparing for bed, discourage television watching. Unsettling shows can keep seniors awake. Limit access to a tablet, computer, or smartphone before bed. The light from devices is thought to make it more difficult for people to fall asleep.

3. Prepare a comfortable environment

A relaxing sleep environment is beneficial for encouraging a quality night’s sleep. Set a peaceful, quiet mood before bedtime. For example, the caregiver might turn the lights down, reduce noise levels, and play relaxing music if the elderly individual prefers it.

Turn on the nightlights in the bedroom, hallway, and bathroom. Offer security objects to the senior. Treat any pain prior to the senior getting ready for bed. If the aging adult awakens, discourage him from staying in bed; the bed should be reserved only for sleep.

4. Encourage daytime activities

Plan for daytime activities that utilize a significant amount of energy. Rather than bathe the senior at night, try the mornings. Another way to encourage more energy use during the middle of the day is by preparing and serving the biggest family meal around this time.

5. Consume large meals midday

Larger midday meals are encouraged, and caregivers who intend to promote the senior’s sleep should not serve them close to bedtime. Heavy meals during this time can keep seniors awake. Likewise, do not serve caffeinated beverages, such as coffee, tea, and soda, late in the day. Avoid alcohol, too.

6. Exercise daily

Daily exercise during regular times each day helps promote nighttime sleep. However, it is important to complete the physical activity at least four hours before bedtime. Ensure enough rest at night by limiting daytime naps, since seniors who are overly tired will experience nighttime restlessness.

7. Try sleep medications, as a last resort

Drug therapies are a last resort, since the risks to seniors with cognitive decline are considerable. Confusion, falls, fractures, and an inability to provide self-care are possible after taking sleep medications. If drugs are used, they should be discontinued once a regular sleep pattern has been established.

Medications that are used to treat sleep issues include tricyclic antidepressants, benzodiazepines, and sleeping pills. Belsomra is an FDA-approved drug used to treat insomnia in seniors with Alzheimer’s disease. However, a healthcare professional should be consulted to assess a drug’s benefits and risks.

Dementia Care Naperville Illinois

When your elderly loved one suffers from Alzheimer’s disease and experiences sleep issues, the memory care services provided by Assisting Hands Home Care will be invaluable. Our professional caregivers are trained to support seniors at any stage of Alzheimer’s or other type of dementia.

Caregivers from our home care agency are extremely patient with seniors who experience lapses in memory. When seniors with dementia wander, we guide them safely back. Agitation and angry outbursts are common in dementia patients, and we understand them as symptoms of the disease.

Non-medical home health care from Assisting Hands Home Care includes support with all the activities of daily living, from personal hygiene tasks to medication reminders and transportation to doctors’ offices. We prepare balanced meals and serve as excellent companions to the elderly individuals in our care.

Seniors living in the communities surrounding Naperville, Illinois, are encouraged to consult Assisting Hands Home Care for the most compassionate elder care services in the area (See all served areas). We’ll set up an in-home consultation to assess care needs and develop a care plan. Call us today at (630) 634-9316 for quality dementia care.