What Happens In Alzheimers Disease
Scientists believe that Alzheimer’s disease may be caused by an abnormal buildup of proteins: beta-amyloid and tau. Beta-amyloid buildup forms plaques around brain cells. Tau deposits form twisted fibers called tangles within brain cells. As these proteins accumulate in and around the brain cells, the brain starts to lose its ability to function properly, this leads to loss of brain tissue, and eventually, the brain dies. The tissue damage also causes the affected parts of the brain to shrink.
Initially plaques and tangles damage parts of the brain that control memory, thought, and language. Later they spread and damage other parts of the brain.
Keep The Patient Active During The Day
Plan daily activities go for a stroll outdoors, meet family members and friends, and if happy and able – visit a specialist group, such as a dementia cafe. Exposure to natural daylight is important to regulate the body clock, and getting out and about is the best way to enjoy good physical health. This will also help to tire and promote better sleep.
What To Do If They Refuse To Let Go Of The Idea
Sometimes, your older adult will refuse to let go of the idea of going home, no matter how much you try to soothe or redirect.
If that happens, you might need to agree to take them home and then go for a brief car ride.
Experiment with how long it takes before you can take them home without protest. Or, suggest a stop at the ice cream shop, drugstore, or grocery store to distract and redirect.
If its not possible to actually take them out or get into the car, even going through the actions of getting ready to leave can still be soothing. This will shows that you agree with them and are helping to achieve their goal.
Meanwhile, the activities of getting ready give you more chances to distract and redirect to something else.
Keep in mind that not everything you try will work the first time. And even if something works once, it might not work the next time.
Do your best to stay calm, flexible, and creative this technique gets easier with practice.
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Common Causes Of Sleep Change With Dementia
There are several factors that can cause older adults with dementia to have sleep problems:
- Heart and lung conditions, such as heart failure or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- Stomach-related conditions such as gastroesophageal reflux disease
- Chronic pain from arthritis or another cause
- Urinary conditions that make people prone to urinating at night, such as an enlarged prostate or an overactive bladder
- Mood problems, such as anxiety or depression
- Medication side effects, and substances such as alcohol
- Chronic medical conditions and medications often affect sleep. Studies have found that older adults often experience secondary sleep difficulties, which means that the sleep problems are being caused by an underlying health problem. Many people diagnosed with Alzheimers have additional chronic health problems that may be associated with sleep difficulties. Common causes of secondary sleep problems include:
- Many sleep-related disorders become more frequent with aging. Examples: sleep apnea and related conditions , which may affect 40 to 50 percent of seniors, as well as restless leg syndrome.
Ways To Respond When Someone Is Experiencing Dementia Hallucinations
1. Determine if a response is neededThe first step is to determine whether the hallucination is bothering your older adult.
If its pleasant, you might not want to respond or call attention to it.
Just know and accept that its a dementia symptom and thankfully isnt causing distress.
If the hallucination is upsetting them or causing them to do something unsafe, then its time to quickly step in to provide comfort or redirect to a safe activity.
2. Stay calm and dont argue or try to convince using logicWhen someone is having a dementia hallucination, its important to stay calm and avoid contradicting them.
What theyre seeing is a dementia symptom and is very real to them.
Trying to explain that it isnt real simply wont work because of the damage that dementia has caused in their brain.
In fact, knowing that you dont believe them might make them even more upset and agitated.
If theyre calm enough to explain, it may also help to understand what theyre seeing. Listen carefully and try to pick up clues to what theyre seeing.
But keep in mind that dementia damage in the brain may affect their ability to use the correct words. For example, they could unintentionally say cabbages when they mean green cushions.
3. Validate their feelings and provide reassuranceBe careful not to dismiss your older adults experience.
Brushing off what theyre seeing by saying something like, Dont be silly, theres nothing there, is likely to upset them.
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Sleep Medications And Alzheimers
If your loved oneâs doctor prescribes medicine to help them rest, theyâll probably start at the lowest dose possible and stop the drugs as soon as sleep patterns improve.
- Sleeping pills such as zaleplon and zolpidem
Doctors also sometimes prescribe drugs called antipsychotics such as risperidone . They can be helpful, but they also might increase the risk of death in some people with dementia. Youâll want to talk carefully with your loved oneâs doctor about this medicine before they take it.
Just as Alzheimerâs sleep problems can change over the years, so do the ways you can handle it. Always talk to your doctor about which options are best.
Do People With Dementia Sleep A Lot During The Day
Some people with dementia sleep excessively during the daytime. They may feel like they cant stay awake, and they may take long naps that interfere with nighttime sleep and overall quality of life.
Excessive daytime sleepiness is more common in people with Parkinsons disease dementia or Lewy body dementia than in those with Alzheimers. Some factors that may contribute to excessive daytime sleepiness include:
- Insufficient sleep at night
- Damage to brain cells caused by dementia
- Changes in sleep pattern caused by dementia
- Mental health conditions, such as depression
- Other sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea
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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
What Should I Do If A Person With Dementia Is Sleeping A Lot
If the person is in the later stages of dementia and they have gradually started sleeping more and more, it is likely to be due to the dementia progressing.
However, if the excessive sleeping has started more suddenly, or the person doesnt seem well in other ways, it may have another cause.
If this is the case you should speak to the GP, to rule out any infections or conditions that could be having an impact.
It may also be worth asking for a medication review with the GP or speaking to a pharmacist as medication can cause a range of side effects.
If the person is sleeping a lot but it isnt having a negative impact on them it is often best to just go with it and make sure they are comfortable.
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Common Changes In Behaviour
In the middle to later stages of most types of dementia, a person may start to behave differently. This can be distressing for both the person with dementia and those who care for them.
Some common changes in behaviour include:
- repeating the same question or activity over and over again
- restlessness, like pacing up and down, wandering and fidgeting
- night-time waking and sleep disturbance
- following a partner or spouse around everywhere
- loss of self-confidence, which may show as apathy or disinterest in their usual activities
If you’re caring for someone who’s showing these behaviours, it’s important to try to understand why they’re behaving like this, which is not always easy.
You may find it reassuring to remember that these behaviours may be how someone is communicating their feelings. It may help to look at different ways of communicating with someone with dementia.
Sometimes these behaviours are not a dementia symptom. They can be a result of frustration with not being understood or with their environment, which they no longer find familiar but confusing.
Elderly Sleeping Too Much
It is common for people to become light sleepers when they grow old. Many find it difficult to sleep through the night due to the need to use the bathroom or achy joints. Sometimes, people try to catch a restorative nap during the day to make up for their lost sleep, and that is quite normal. You may have to worry a bit when you have an elderly sleeping too much. But, exactly how much is too much? Should you talk to your doctor when an elder spends a lot of time sleeping throughout the day? Let’s find out more.
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What Causes Alzheimer’s Disease
The exact cause of Alzheimers is not known. However, several factors increase the risk of the disease.
The risk factors of Alzheimers include:
- Age: Risk increases with age, affecting 15% of people older than 65 years and 50% of people older than 85 years.
- Family history: Family member with the disease increases the risk. Inherited gene mutations also increase the probability of developing the disease.
- Gender: Women have a higher risk than men.
Rachel Thompson Admiral Nurse Professional And Practice Development Lead At Dementia Uktalks About How Dementia Affects Sleep And How Carers And Families Can Approach Sleep Disturbance And Its Possible Underlying Causes
Disturbances in sleeping patterns are common among people with dementia and can become more problematic as the condition progresses. Someone diagnosed with dementia can become increasingly restless, confused, agitated, or distressed, particularly as the sun is setting and it becomes dark outside. This is known as sundowning.
There are many different types of dementia and some people may present with a combination of types. Regardless of which type is diagnosed, each person will experience their dementia in their own unique way. All types of dementia can affect sleeping but for people with specific types of dementia particularly Lewy body dementia or Parkinsons disease dementia, sleep disturbance can be particularly common due to physical changes in the brain. For people with Lewy Body dementia this can include nightmares or night terrors and/or restless leg syndrome or uncontrolled limb movements.
Medications may also cause sleep problems, for example anti- cholinesterase inhibitor drugs such as Aricept, Exelon and Reminyl, can cause night time stimulation and dream disturbance so where possible these should not be taken in the evening. Pain is also a major contributor to sleep deprivation and is commonly unrecognised and undertreated in people with dementia. If you suspect the person with dementia may be in pain contact your GP.
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How To Cope With Common Changes In Behaviour
Although changes in behaviour can be difficult to deal with, it can help to work out if there are any triggers.
- Do some behaviours happen at a certain time of day?
- Is the person finding the home too noisy or cluttered?
- Do these changes happen when a person is being asked to do something they may not want to do?
Keeping a diary for 1 to 2 weeks can help identify these triggers.
If the change in behaviour comes on suddenly, the cause may be a health problem. The person may be in pain or discomfort from constipation or an infection.
Ask a GP for an assessment to rule out or treat any underlying cause.
Keeping an active social life, regular exercise, and continuing activities the person enjoys, or finding new ones, can help to reduce behaviours that are out of character.
Read more about activities for dementia.
Other things that can help include:
- providing reassurance
- activities that give pleasure and confidence, like listening to music or dancing
- therapies, such as animal-assisted therapy, music therapy, and massage
Remember also that it’s not easy being the person supporting or caring for a person with behaviour changes. If you’re finding things difficult, ask for support from a GP.
How To Die In Sleep
Getting enough sleep, exercising, and eating well are what makes our bodies healthy. However, sleeping can also be dangerous. There are many things that can go wrong when you sleep and are unconscious.
This is why you may have heard of things like people dying in their sleep without any signs of illness. The dangers are also the same where seniors are concerned.
What you may not have known is that the brain remains active even as we sleep and there are so many things that are not clear about sleep. Some of the ways in which you can die in your sleep include:
- A sudden cardiac arrest
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
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Moving To A Care Home
If the persons needs become too great for you to manage at home, you may need to consider other long-term options. If youre becoming exhausted or the person with dementia is becoming harder to care for, a care home can be the best option for you both.
A move to a care home can be a difficult decision, but there are limits to the care you can provide.
If the person you care for is moving into a care home, familiar furniture, belongings or music can help them feel more settled.
How Does Peanut Butter Detect Alzheimers
The researchers discovered that those who had an impaired sense of smell in the left nostril had early-stage Alzheimers. They noted that the participants needed to be an average of 10 centimeters closer to the peanut butter container in order to smell it from their left nostril compared to their right nostril.
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Sleep Aids: Medications Melatonin And Dementia
In some cases, the doctor may prescribe medications to help your loved one sleep. However, older adults with cognitive impairment are more likely to experience side effects from sleep-inducing drugs, so those medications arent usually recommended for long-term use.
Some studies show melatonin may improve sleep in people with mild to moderate dementia. It may also help reduce agitation and confusion late in the day. Check with your loved ones doctor before starting any over-the-counter supplements or sleep aids.
If You’re Looking After Someone With Dementia
Your needs as a carer are as important as the person you’re caring for.
To help care for yourself:
- join a local carers’ support group or a specialist dementia organisation â for more details, call the Carers Direct helpline on 0300 123 1053 lines are open 8am to 9pm Monday to Friday, and 11am to 4pm at weekends
- call Dementia UK’s Admiral Nurse Dementia Helpline free on 0800 888 6678 to talk to a registered specialist dementia nurse lines are open 9am to 9pm Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm at weekends
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Professional Help With Dementia Sleep Issues
Dementia is a disease that commonly affects an elderly adults sleep cycle. Experts still dont know precisely why dementia patients dont sleep but believe its linked to brain alterations. Other dementia sleep issues like sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome can also make it difficult for loved ones with dementia to fall asleep or stay asleep at night.
If your loved one with dementia struggles with sleep and youre wondering how to keep dementia patients in bed at night, you may want to try:
- Keeping them on a consistent schedule
- Ensuring they exercise regularly
- Creating a calming nighttime routine
Theres also overnight dementia care for family caregivers looking for professional, hands-on assistance.
Stowell Associates in Wisconsin is a premier in-home dementia care provider. We train and equip both our Care Managers and Caregivers to handle the demands of dementia care. With our 24-hour care service, your loved one will receive the best care during the day and nighttime hours. It will also provide you with peace of mind knowing your loved one is receiving the care they need.
Contact us today to talk with a Care Advisor. Theyll help you better understand all the benefits of full-time dementia care.
More to explore
Does Quality Of Sleep Matter For People With Dementia
The quality of a person’s sleep gradually deteriorates as they get older. They tend to get less deep or slow-wave sleep, which helps to keep the brain healthy and refreshed.
Even though a person with dementia may end up sleeping more than a typical person of their age even as much as 1415 hours a day it is unlikely to all be good quality sleep.
Sleeping a lot can also be influenced by peoples sleeping patterns before they had dementia, as some people need more sleep than others.
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My Dad Has Dementia And Is Moving Into Residential Care Are There Any Care Homes With Dementia Units
Yes, there are. These residential units will allow your dad to live in a home environment with the benefit of trained staff on hand to help care for him. It may also be worth considering finding a care home in the right location to enable friends and family to visit regularly. This may be more fitting for your dad and ease the transition.
If your parent/partner suffers from restless leg syndrome they move or twitch their legs uncontrollably, especially during the evenings and night-time. They may also experience tingling, burning and fizzing sensations in their legs too. Symptoms can be relieved by rubbing and stretching legs – but it can be so bad that it wakes the person up. If you discover that your parent/partner has either of these medical conditions, its wise to see a GP and ask for help.