Did you know that one of the earliest symptoms of Alzheimer’s is a loss of sleep? Individuals that have this dementia-related disorder often find that their sleep patterns are interrupted in the early stages of the disease and as it progresses, patterns of healthy sleep can be more difficult to attain. This symptom ultimately plays back into the disease itself as cognitive functions decline and memory becomes weaker when tired. The sleep disturbances in the early stages of Alzheimer’s become an inconvenience without causing intense memory lapses, but as the disease progresses on, maintaining a healthy sleep cycle can become an important aspect of care because it can also contribute to increased symptoms. As you may already know, especially if you’re dealing with a friend or family member that is going through the transitions, the cyclic effect of loss of sleep is a tough cross to bear.
Unfortunately, while scientists know that there is a link between sleeplessness and memory-related conditions, they don’t entirely understand why. Sleep patterns are disrupted for seniors for a number of reasons including complications with the heart or lungs, chronic pain, mood disorders or medication side-effects. Alzheimer’s patients are known to take naps during the day as well, a problem that can cause for being restless in the later hours.
Many of the contributing factors to sleeplessness can be controlled through monitoring and being mindful of time. Because memory loss patients often have difficulties managing their time, having a person around to encourage following doctor’s directions, maintaining healthy habits, to serve meals at routine hours and to engage them mentally during the evening hours when sundowning and confusion are common are just some of the ways that seniors can benefit.
Additionally, one of the biggest ways that seniors can benefit from working with a professional health aide is by being active during the daytime hours. Consider the times that you have seen your beloved elder napping in the middle of the day. It’s hard to wake them because you know how little sleep that they get. Skilled aides are familiar with activities that can help to keep their clients engaged, planning out the time to go on errands and watching for signs of fatigue that may indicate a change in schedule is needed. When you are with someone much of the time, you also get a feel for moods. Having someone on hand can make the difference between getting out in the afternoon or falling asleep.
I am so proud of my father for making the crucial decision to allow ComfortCare Homes to care for my mom. It is hard to decide to “give up” but he knew mom was in great hands. I appreciate the staff support of me and my family in caring for mom after dad passed away. I felt confident and positive at the whole expereince. Thank you ComfortCare Homes (Founders Crest).
- Bryan Wilson