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5 Ways to Help a Senior with Sleep Issues Related to Dementia

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Dementia caregivers often report they notice their senior loved ones are waking up constantly, wandering about at night, or refusing to sleep. Sleep disorders are fairly common in seniors with dementia because the changes to the brain disrupt the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle. Here are a few things you can do to address the problem and help your loved one sleep soundly through the night.

1. Use Light Therapy

The human body is highly influenced by light. When the sun is high in the sky, the body produces hormones associated with wakefulness, and when it gets dark, sleep-inducing hormones are generated. You can use this natural rhythm to help your loved one sleep better at night. Try to make sure your loved one gets an hour of bright daylight each day, preferably by spending time outside. At night, try to limit exposure to artificial light and make the sleeping environment dim.

2. Stick to a Regular Routine

Seniors with dementia tend to have difficulty learning new things and getting used to change, and they do better when they can follow a familiar schedule each day. Try to always help your loved one wake up and go to bed at the same time. Having a sleep schedule is generally associated with better sleep quality, and the sense of familiarity may be soothing for seniors with dementia.

Caring for a loved one with dementia can be challenging, but compassionate help is available. If your senior loved one has been diagnosed with a serious condition and needs help with tasks like meal prep, transportation, bathing, and grooming, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of senior care Sacramento, CA, families can trust. We also offer comprehensive care for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.

3. Encourage Daytime Exercise

According to a 2011 study from the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, seniors who walk more during the day sleep better at night. The ability to remain physically active helps seniors sleep more soundly because all the exercise tires them out each day. Some good activities for seniors with dementia include things like walking around parks, going for a swim, or playing a sport.

4. Look at Medication Side Effects

A lot of common medications prescribed for seniors with dementia can lead to sleep issues. Some mood stabilizers tend to make seniors take daytime naps, leaving them wide awake at night, and other medications make seniors wake up repeatedly to urinate during the night. Check medications carefully and ask the doctor if your loved one can take them at a different time of day if they impair sleep. 

Dementia can be challenging for seniors to manage, but they can maintain a higher quality of life with the help of professional dementia care. Sacramento seniors can benefit greatly from the Cognitive Therapeutics Method (CTM), an activities-based program designed to promote cognitive health and delay the onset of dementia. CTM is included at no additional charge with any of the in-home care plans provided by Home Care Assistance.

5. Make the Sleep Environment Comfortable

You may need to observe your loved one and see if there’s anything you can do to make his or her sleep environment as relaxing and nonthreatening as possible. Most seniors get better sleep when they’re in a cool, quiet, dark room. However, some seniors with dementia may need night lights to prevent them from getting disturbed by shadows. Your loved one may also feel safer if you move the bed against a wall or give him or her a weighted blanket.

When you understand the causes of your loved one’s sleep difficulties and use the strategies outlined above, you can help him or her sleep better and enhance his or her overall wellbeing. Seniors who want to remain healthy as they age can benefit in a variety of ways when they receive professional elder care. Sacramento, CA, Home Care Assistance is here to help your loved one accomplish daily tasks, prevent illness, and focus on living a healthier and more fulfilling life. If your loved one needs assistance with the challenges of aging, reach out to one of our knowledgeable, compassionate Care Managers today at 916.706.0169.