Sleep Disturbances: Causes and Tips
Sleep disturbances can be caused by dementia, which can affect a senior‘s sense of day and night. There is confusion enough that elderly may be completely reversed, thinking night is day. The effect is magnified when the person has unmet needs that they can’t express, such as hunger, thirst, pain, loneliness or boredom.
Neurologists believe that Alzheimer’s disease causes disruptions in the body’s circadian rhythm — the 24-hour cycle that controls body temperature, hunger, sleeping and wakefulness. Most people with dementia do best at home, among familiar surroundings, where they feel more oriented and independent. Familiar daily routines provide comfort and stability. Continued proximity to family and friends preserves a sense of social connectedness.
Tips to improve an elder‘s sleep:
– Create an environment conducive to calm and sleepiness near the end of the day.
– Close the curtains and blinds at dusk.
– Reduce noise and clutter, and the number of people in the room.
– Encourage the senior to take part in a quiet activity, like folding napkins.
– Offer a small snack and drink.
– Play soothing music.
– Read quietly to your elderly parents, or put on a familiar old TV program.
– Do not give elders coffee or other caffeinated drinks late in the day.
If sleep problems persist, talk to their doctor. There may be underlying causes effecting sleep, such as a urinary tract infection or side effects from medication.
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John D. Miller is the founder/owner of Home Care Partners, LLC, a Massachusetts business providing private duty, personalized in-home assistance and companion care services to those needing help in daily activities and household functions.
Phone: (781) 378-2164