People with dementia suffer from a condition called “sundowning.” At the end of the day, they experience increased levels of confusion and anxiety. They often say that they “want to go home,” and they have trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep. That’s because the deterioration of the brain caused by Dementia actually changes a senior’s ability to sleep resulting in less “deep sleep” time; Dementia alters the circadian rhythms that regulate sleep.
Given the fact that Dementia is such a devastating disease, with so many serious, adverse physical and mental indications, it may seem like a tall order to try and fix an issue like sleep. However, a good night’s sleep improves health and mood and those are important for dementia patients. There are things that can be done to improve sleep. LivHOME caregivers can help to improve the factors that affect sleep for patients suffering with dementia. Here are some of the things that our professionals find successfully improve sleep.
It’s important for anyone suffering from Alzheimer’s or Dementia to have a fixed daily routine. If a senior is active during the day it can help them to be more tired by bedtime. It’s also a reassuring quality for the senior, depending on how much influence the disease has over their brain, to have a structured day, and a sense of what to expect.
For families and caregivers, figuring out how to provide structure for a dementia patient’s day can be challenging. The goal is to keep a senior’s life as normal as possible. Maintaining a regular routine, based on the senior’s traditional lifestyle, is best, while incorporating new safeguards and redirection as necessary.
Perhaps most important is providing a sleep environment that is conducive to falling, and staying asleep. Remove any unnecessary light sources such as televisions, laptops, tablets and smartphones. Without additional distractions, and a dark setting, the body will know it is time to sleep. To further help a senior with Dementia, make sure that the bedroom is a “soft” environment. Lamps should always have a shade. Avoid artwork with bold patterns and big mirrors. Clean clutter out of the bedroom and make it a minimal, restful environment. It will reduce confusion, encourage calm, and help trigger signals for the patient that this is the room where sleep occurs.
Lastly, it should be noted that many clinicians do not recommend the use of sedatives to help a dementia patient sleep. Sleeping pills may have an adverse interaction with other medications the senior is already taking, and they can be dangerous if taken incorrectly or in too large a dose.
It’s best to stick to keeping a senior active during the day and on a regular routine. Ensure that the environment around them is well suited to their needs and a dementia patient may begin to experience a better night’s sleep. If family members need help in improving sleep patterns for someone suffering with dementia, LivHOME caregivers will come to the home to help.