Sleeping Problems Affect Not Only The Aging Parent But Also The Family Member Caring For Them.

Sleeping problems in aging parents are quite common especially for those with dementia. Alzheimer’s, a type of dementia, disrupts a person’s circadian rhythms. These changes make it difficult for them to fall and stay asleep. It can also make them doze during the day creating an irregular sleep schedule.

Someone suffering from Sundowner’s Syndrome – a disorder often found in people with dementia – will feel agitated or anxious as evening comes, typically between 3:00 pm and 7:00 pm. It can also last well into the night. A person affected by Sundowners may pace around, shadow someone, become restless or aggressive. They may attempt to escape their environment or wander off.

Sleeping Problems In Aging Parents Affect The Entire Family.

Unfortunately, sleeping problems affect not only the person with dementia but also all the family members living with or caring for them. If taking care of someone with dementia, and this is disrupting the sleep of the caregiver too, this can add a real strain for everyone involved. Often, a lack of sleep can lead to accidents, lapses in judgment, and a decrease in the overall quality of life.

In fact, it is often a lack of sleep that first leads family caregivers to seek out additional help from professional caregivers.

Doctors are not sure what causes these sleep problems in individuals with dementia. However, they do know that the disease alters specific parts of the brain. For example, areas that regulate cognitive functions, appetite, and hormone secretion. Any of which can result in disruptive sleep patterns.

Here are Four Tips to help Avoid Sleeping Problems in Aging Parents:
  • Avoid Giving Sleeping Pills to Aging Parents with Dementia.

Usually, the risk of taking pharmaceutical sleeping aids outweigh the benefits for someone with dementia. Sleeping aids can cause drowsiness and increase their chances of falling.

  • Try to keep Aging Parents Active and Engaged during the Day.

A lack of activity throughout the day can make it difficult for older adults to sleep at night. Boredom is often a cause of lethargy during the day. Try taking them on special outings. Plan fun activities. Provide some type of physical exercise. Make sure they get some sun exposure during the day.

  • Try to Keep On a Regular Schedule.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) suggests trying to stick with a daily routine. If a senior does need to rest during the day, try scheduling 20 to 30 minute naps to help refresh them without affecting their nighttime sleep.

  • Create a Comfortable Sleep Environment.

Avoid caffeine and alcohol, especially later in the day. Close the curtains at night to block out nighttime shadows. Provide cozy bedding. Minimize the noise. Set the thermostat at a comfortable temperature.

Caregivers are often worried about upsetting their loved one. So they just let them sleep all day. Unfortunately, allowing them to lie in bed for too long during the day, makes it more difficult for them to sleep at night.

If they do wake up in the middle of the night and cannot fall back to sleep, let them do something like watching TV to help them relax. Individuals with late-stage Alzheimer’s can spend up to forty percent of their time lying awake in bed at night. This causes a significant amount of time sleeping during the day, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

Sleep Deprivation Can Seriously Affect Your Mental And Physical Health.

Do not let Mom or Dad’s sleep issues disrupt your life to the point where you have trouble functioning during the day. If you provide care of an elderly loved one and can not remember the last time you had a good night’s sleep, use this Contact Us form or call us at 732-481-1148.

Hibernian Home Care offers a complimentary consultation to assess both you and your elderly loved one’s needs and can provide flexible and affordable Home Care services customized to those needs. Our Home Care professionals have the training and the experience to help avoid sleeping problems in aging parents and ensure they get the best rest possible.