How To Diagnose The Sleep Problems Of A Person With Dementia
Like many problems that affect older adults, sleep problems in dementia are almost always multifactorial, which means that there are usually several underlying issues creating the problem.
Multifactorial problems can be improved, especially if a family and the doctors are diligent about trying to identify as many contributing factors as possible. But youll need to start by helping the doctors understand what kinds of sleep-related symptoms and problems a loved one is experiencing.
Here is a list of questions that a group of geriatrics experts recommends, for evaluating sleep problems.
Common Sleep Problems In People With Dementia
Sleep changes are common in older adults with and without dementia. Many seniors experience changes in the quality of their sleep, the number of hours they sleep, and how much time they spend awake at night. In fact, older adults;total sleep time decreases;by about 30 minutes per decade starting in middle age.
Sleep problems are even more common in people with dementia. The type and severity of sleep disturbances may vary depending on the;cause of your loved ones dementia;and the;stage of their disease. Sleep problems associated with dementia tend to get worse as the disease progresses.
Your loved one with dementia may experience the following sleep problems:
- Difficulty maintaining or falling asleep, which can be caused by;insomnia, problems with the sleep cycle, side effects of medication, or other factors.
- Sundown syndrome, which is common in people with Alzheimers and other forms of dementia, can contribute to problems with sleep.;Sundown syndrome;refers to increased confusion, agitation, anxiety, and aggression in the evening or during the night.
- Problems with movement during sleep, such as restless legs syndrome which is characterized by an uncomfortable urge to move the legs during periods of rest or rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder, which makes people act out their dreams.
- Breathing disorders during sleep, such as sleep apnea, which affects about;50% of people with Alzheimers.
Activities For Dementia Patients: 50 Tips And Ideas To Keep Patients With Dementia Engaged
The prevalence of Alzheimers disease and other types of dementia is on the rise, yet the cost of dementia care options continues to grow. For many, family caregiving becomes the most practical and cost-effective solution, at least for a time. Keeping dementia patients actively engaged in everyday activities and cognitively challenging tasks is beneficial for both body and mind and, in some cases, it can even slow the progression of the disease. Staying active and engaged can help to reduce dementia sleep problems, as well.
Weve put together a list of 50 tips and ideas for keeping dementia patients active and engaged through everyday activities, outings, cognitively challenging tasks, and social and emotional activities, many of which can be used throughout most of the stages of dementia. Youll also find a few helpful tips for selecting activities that are appropriate based on the patients interests, abilities, and other considerations.;
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Establishing Good Habits: Routine
Having a nightly routine can be reassuring and calming for a person with dementia. Knowing what is going to happen next can help them to feel relaxed and comfortable. You could try:
- encouraging and supporting them to have a warm bath or shower
- taking some relaxing time before bed, listening to music or reading a book
Spend More Time Outside
Sleeping problems are becoming more common in modern day. Many people work indoors and all of us get too much screen time with electronics.
These factors can wreak havoc on your sleeping schedule. By spending more time outside during the daytime, you can help your brain get back on its circadian rhythm. When we listen to our biological clock, that can alleviate dementia and sleeping issues.
If physical conditions prevent someone from getting outside, light therapy is another valuable option to consider. This treatment involves sitting by a special light that simulates natural daylight.
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Setting The Scene For Bed
Its important to take into account the preferences of the person with dementia.
Often, the best way to find out the sleep pattern of a person with dementia is to talk to them and ask. We are all different and have varied body clocks and preferences. If the person is unable to tell you, try different things to see what works best. You could try:
- checking the temperature of the persons bedroom, to make sure its not too hot or cold
- making sure their bedclothes are suitable for the season. Being too hot or cold in the night can cause a person to wake up
- finding out if the person prefers to sleep in darkness or would like a night light
If the person tends to get up in the night, to use the toilet or to wander around, you might want to have a light on for them, in the room or in the corridor. Keeping the bathroom light on and the door open can help them find their way to the toilet. Remember to keep the pathway to the bathroom clear.
In the summertime, when the evenings are lighter, it can help maintain a routine by pulling the curtains or blinds at the same time each evening.
Sometimes, medication can aid sleep. But sleeping mediation must be used with caution and under the guidance of your GP.
Lastly, think back to the persons preferences for bed time before they received their diagnosis of dementia. If they liked to go to bed late at night, that preference will probably stay the same, and so it will be difficult to get them ready for bed earlier in the evening.
Exercise And Activities To Promote An Active Lifestyle
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Dementia And Falling Out Of Bed: Understanding Why
To help prevent memory care residents from falling out of bed, it is important to understand why they are restless or why they are attempting to get up.;
- Do they need a different bedtime? Examine the number of hours in bed; you may find residents are going to bed too early.
- Are their medications being given to them at the appropriate time?
- Are their continence care needs being met effectively and frequently enough?;
- Is the lighting appropriate for sleep?
- Is the environment too loud? Consider noise in the hallways, televisions etc.
- Is their bed comfortable? Examine the mattress, pillows, blankets, etc.
- Examine the level of engagement throughout the day and monitor for frequent napping or excessive time in bed during daytime hours.
My Older Adult Is Leaking In The Bed At Night Waking Both Of Us What Should I Do
Night may be the most challenging time to keep your older adult dry. The good news is that super absorbent products exist.
It may seem like overkill, but you wont regret being overprepared if it means a better nights sleep and less laundry in the morning.
In case of a leak, keep necessary products by the bed like wipes, skincare products, absorbent underwear, a change of clothes, and disposal bags. That way, you wont have to search for them in the middle of the night.
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Sleep Disturbance Tips For Carers
- Make sure the person has plenty of daylight and things to do during the day.
- Think about improving the sleeping environment. Make sure the room is a comfortable temperature with the right amount of light. If its too light, consider blackout blinds.
- Avoid drinks containing caffeine after 2pm.
- Avoid alcohol in the evening.
- Consider a clock next to the bed that shows whether its day or night.
- If the person likes to have something to cuddle, consider a soft toy.
- Going for a walk, having a warm milky drink, or having a bath or shower before bed may help the person relax.
- Gentle exercise may help someone to sleep but they should try to avoid exercise too close to bedtime.
- Make sure the persons home is safe leave a light on in the hall and toilet; consider a nightlight in the bedroom and remove any trip hazards .
- If the person wakes up at night, try gently reminding them that its night-time.
- Having a low mood can contribute to poor sleep. If you think the person may be depressed see the GP.
Read more about sleep and dementia
Read our advice on how dementia affects sleep and how to build a healthy sleep routine.
Remove Obstacles Around The Bed And Install Proper Night Lights
You want to have a clean, clutter-free area around your elderly loved ones bed. Seniors often wake up at night and visit the toilet. During these nighttime visits, theyre still sleepy and try to get to the bathroom without proper alertness.
The absence of bright enough night lights and unnecessary stuff around the bed can promote accidents. Falls often can be prevented just by installing night lights and removing obstacles.
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Get The Lighting Right
To aid a more restful nights sleep the bedroom should be as comfortable as possible. Using blackout curtains are a good idea during night-time to eliminate outside disturbances. Research suggests;that light therapy can reduce restlessness and confusion for people with dementia. Should you wish to consider light therapy, it has been proven that violet coloured light promotes drowsiness and a full-spectrum fluorescent light used for the first two hours of the day can be settling. Light therapy that follows a regular pattern can also help with disturbed body clocks.;
Safety – if night wandering is a problem, or frequent visits to the loo, you will need to consider some sort of low light to prevent your parent falling in the dark. You may want to invest in a motion sensor night light. A motion sensor light automatically turns on when motion is detected within three metres. It then turns off after 30 seconds of no activity. This means that people with dementia can use the bathroom in the night or get out of bed with less risk of falling. The light is gentle and warm in order to not interrupt sleep.
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How To Help Someone With Dementia Sleep
August 27, 2018 By The Crossings at Riverview
Getting enough sleep is an important part of staying healthy, no matter what your age. This is especially true, however, for individuals who have been diagnosed with a chronic illness like dementia. As people age, their sleep patterns often change, and dementia may exacerbate this problem. Luckily, there are several tools that can help your loved one improve the quality of their sleep. Once you learn how to help someone with dementia sleep, you can implement several key strategies to keep your loved one well rested.
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Ways To Help Someone Living With Dementia Get A Better Nights Sleep
As most of us will have experienced at one time or another, not being able to sleep, or not sleeping well can become literally a nightmare.;For those living with dementia, not getting a good nights sleep can be particularly acute and really affect their quality of life, and that of those caring for them.This guide explains how to help dementia patients sleep. You can also find out more about common sleep problems, get tips on how to keep dementia patients in bed at night and read our helpful FAQs.;
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If you are finding it particularly hard to help someone with dementia with their sleep, and its affecting your ability to care for an elderly relative, it may be a good idea to share some of the care responsibilities with a live-in carer, like those found on our best live-in care companies page.
What Causes Alzheimers Wandering
There are many reasons why someone with Alzheimers might wander, including:
- Fear or stress they might not recognize where they are, the environment is overstimulating, or a loud noise or confusing situation could upset them
- Basic needs they might be looking for food, a bathroom, or just want to get some fresh air
- Searching they might get lost while looking for someone or something
- Boredom they could be looking for something to do
- Old routines they might be trying to go to work, do chores, or run errands like they used to
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Create A Calm And Soothing Environment
The environment and atmosphere you create while caregiving can play a large part in helping an Alzheimers or dementia patient feel calm and safe.
Modify the environment to reduce potential stressors that can create agitation and disorientation. These include loud or unidentifiable noises, shadowy lighting, mirrors or other reflecting surfaces, garish colors, and patterned wallpaper.
Maintain calm within yourself. Getting anxious or upset in response to problem behavior can increase the patients stress. Respond to the emotion being communicated by the behavior, not the behavior itself. Try to remain flexible, patient, and relaxed. If you find yourself becoming anxious or losing control, take time out to cool down.
Causes Of Sleeping Problems
It is important to try to recognise what may be causing the problem is it the environment, the dementia or the medications used? This will help to decide on which strategies may be helpful.
Some families and carers find that keeping a log or diary may help them see the pattern of behaviour that may be developing, enabling the cause of the problem to be pinpointed.;
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How To Improve Problems With Dementia And Sleep
The exact approach will depend on which underlying factors are causing the problems. Still, certain general approaches have been found to improve the sleep of many with dementia. These include:
- Outdoor light or bright light therapy during the day; Bright outdoor light helps keep the circadian signals on track. For older adults who cant get outside for at least an hour per day, bright light therapy with a special lamp might help. A study found that bright light therapy in Alzheimers patients improved sleep.
- Increasing daytime physical activity;Research has suggested that walking during the day can help improve nighttime sleep in people with Alzheimers.
- Optimizing environmental cues for sleep; This means keeping the sleeping environment dark and quiet at night. This is especially important in nursing homes, which have sometimes been found to have staff active at night.
- Establishing a regular routine with a consistent wake-up time; The ideal is to have a consistent bedtime and wake-up time, but many experts believe its best to start by focusing on a consistent wake-up time.
A research study published in 2005 found that training dementia caregivers to use these techniques in combination led to improved sleep of the care recipients with Alzheimers.