If you’re caring for someone who has Alzheimer’s or other form of dementia, you may have noticed a change in his or her sleep patterns. For example, my mom often slept a lot during the day, then was awake half the night. Other people with Alzheimer’s might wake up on and off throughout the night. Some often become confused or agitated in the late afternoon (a phenomenon known as “sundowning”).
These sleep problems can also keep you up at night, either trying to coax your loved one back to bed or worrying about the very real possibility that he or she will go wandering around Kansas City.
So, what can you do? Here are some tips:
Stick to a routine. Keep a regular schedule for meals, bedtime, and getting up in the morning.
Try to limit daytime sleeping. Plan activities that can keep your loved one engaged. Discourage napping, especially later in the day.
Encourage exercise. Physical activity fosters better nighttime sleep. But keep it to a minimum within four hours of bedtime.
Avoid caffeine and other stimulants. Limit coffee and any type of screen exposure (e.g., television, computer) to early in the day.
Ask about pain. It’s tough to sleep if you’re in pain, so make sure you’re giving prescribed pain medications regularly, as needed.
Provide a cozy sleeping area. Make sure the room is set at a comfortable temperature. Provide extra blankets in case it cools down at night. Put nightlights in the hallway and bathroom.
Review medications with your Kansas City physician. Make sure your loved one isn’t taking stimulants too close to bedtime.
If you need help maintaining a routine, fitting in daily activities, or ensuring your loved one gets regular exercise, enlist the help of a Kansas City Alzheimer’s home care provider.