Addressing Sleep Issues Related to Dementia

Elderly man with dementia needs help. Mature couple supports each other in the fight with amnesia and mental disorder. Memory loss concept. Vector illustration

Addressing Sleep Issues Related to Dementia

If you are a child of a parent or a caregiver of and elderly adult who has dementia, you may be experiencing some difficulty getting them to sleep or stay asleep. Children or caregivers often report that it seems as though the patient can go for days without sleeping a wink. Often referred to as the a “36-hour day,” this prolonged sleeplessness can become exhausting for a child, caregiver, and of course the senior.

It isn’t always easy to pin point the causes of their insomnia, however, there are some common issues that have been noted. Here are some of the common issues that can be brought up with family and your loved one’s physician.

Late Afternoon Naps – When the days and nights become blended for dementia patient, they may begin taking long naps in the afternoon. While they might feel refreshed following the nap, in the long run it will only worsen their insomnia.

Should the senior really need a nap, encourage them to lay down midday instead of later in the afternoon. Keeping a tight and repeatable schedule will greatly help with preventing infrequency.

Busy Late-Day Schedules – Overly stimulating environments can be hard for a person with dementia to process. When a dementia patients’ afternoon or evening schedule is overly active, they may find it difficult to unwind. This is experienced by normal functioning people as well, but is even more difficult for a senior with dementia to cope with. This will certainly cause your loved one or patient to have difficultly falling or staying a sleep.

The solution is a simple one in most cases. Schedule activities and appointments earlier in the day while keeping the afternoon and evenings subtle. By removing or replacing external stimuli like TV with quiet or comforting music can really help. The goal should be to keep things peaceful and relaxing.

Lacking a Routine – As we mentioned before, having a routine that is consistent and easily repeatable is key. Seniors with memory impairments often do better when their days are structured or choreographed to a degree. Some research shows that this helps patients because it requires very low use of short-term memory. For seniors experiencing memory loss, short-term memory is typically what is impacted in the early stages of dementia progression.

Environmental Issues – Some other item to potentially exhaust are:

  • Bedroom Temperature – Too Hot or Too Cold?
  • Uncomfortable Bed?
  • Medication Side Effects?
  • Undiagnosed or Acute Pain?
  • Caffeine or Other Stimulants?

At Life’s Journey Senior Living we know that change can be difficult. Our experienced team can help put both of your minds at ease and see the positives in the situation. For more information about our services please do not hesitate to contact us directly at (217) 463-3003.

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