Saturday, August 8, 2020

Alzheimer's and Dementia sleep problems can cause havoc

So, your loved one with Alzheimer's or related Dementia has been causing havoc in the household because their sleep cycle has changed.  It can be quite a problem as it will affect every member of the household, and I don't know about you, but if I don't have a good night's sleep, I turn to Cruella Deville, and that is not good, trust me! This situation is extremely common, why it happens?  like with many behaviors with these diseases it''s unknown. What can we do to change it? well, there are a few things we can do. Let's start by having a schedule. An organized day will help everyone with lowering anxiety levels, knowing what is next is extremely reassuring, especially for an individual that is in the beginning to mid-stage of the disease. Get a large whiteboard and write down what will be happening that day, keep in mind that if your loved has a doctors appointment and he or she doesn't like to go to the doctor, then it shouldn't be announced on the board. Place the board in a place where it can easily be seen.

I love being out in the sun, even if your loved one is in a wheelchair the oxygen will help ease their anxiety and relax them, it is such a natural chill- pill, and it's free. I do realize that with all the concerns surrounding COVID 19, there are some precautions that need to be taken if you are planning on going out for a stroll, I don't think I need to mention those precations as everybody should be well informed about them. If you are lucky enough to have a backyard take advantage of that and sit outside for an hour or so, maybe water the plants, do a little gardening, have lunch outside. A change of scenery from an enclosed environment is always a welcomed change. When I mean for a stroll, I mean just the two of you, not a social outing!

Like I said before, keep them busy and engaged, as I mentioned in other posts planing fulfilling activities, keeping in mind their likes and dislikes, watch out for triggers. My mom loves to sweep, she sweeps the front porch like six times a day, she also mops it, to keep it shiny she says. that is a great exercise to get her energy out. Her caregiver walks with her twice a day also, she also loves to be involved in her garden, keep in mind that she doesn't do all of these in one day. Well, the sweeping yes, it's a daily routine for her. Her sleeping pattern improved a lot when we added the two daily walks, on top of the sweeping. Jeep in mind that sunlight helps regulate sleep cycles. if you can't go outside, open the windows, draw the shades, let the light come in bright sunny rooms to spend the day.

If they are tired and want to take a nap, try to keep them to one a day, and usually in the afternoon, I would say maybe after lunch. That gives you some downtime to take care of some other chores around the house or gives you a much-needed break! It helps everyone re-set for the rest of the day. Be careful when waking them up, do it gently in a calm manner, no shouting, loud noises, that may cause them to get in a bad mood and have a difficult time the rest of the day. Nobody wants that!

Limit their liquid consumption in the evening, I would say three hours before bed, give about two or three ounces of water, make sure they visit void, go to the bathroom before bed. Just make sure that their liquid intake during the day is sufficient to keep them well hydrated. Going to bed at the same time every day and getting up at the same time should be part of their schedule. Avoid, coffee, and alcohol as it may interact with the medications. Keeping the same order of things every night, brushing teeth, putting pajamas on, will help them maintain that memory longer of what to do next and will ease the bedtime routine.

Make sure their bedroom is an inviting, soothing place, clutter-free. It is a good idea to have a soft night light. If you have tried everything to help them regulate their sleeping pattern, then it is time total to their primary physician about medication, at first, the dosage may be too much, this may take some trial and error, with the primary's advise you should reduce or increase the dosage as needed. A very important thing that I would like to say here, DO NOT ALLOW YOURSELF TO BECOME SLEEP DEPRIVED! You will both suffer unnecessarily. 

It is a good idea to track their sleep patterns, you need to keep a Caregiver Journal, as the disease progresses and when the need for hospice care is needed they will need certain information to track or assess the decline, that is when the journal is a great tool to have around. As the disease progresses they will start sleeping anywhere from 20 to 22 hours a day. They become completely dependent on the caregiver for everything. This includes repositioning them in bed in order to prevent abrasions from pressure points, if they stay in the same position for a long period of time their skin starts to breakdown if the pressure point becomes an open wound, which a lot of times it does, it is very hard to heal if it doesn't heal it may become infected and that creates a very challenging situation. All of this can be prevented by repositioning the individual every two hours.

dealing with Alzheimer's and Dementia sleep problems can be exhausting! you have the tools to prevent it, don't let it affect their lives and yours.

We are on this bumpy road together, you are not alone!
Be Prepared, Be Informed, Be Empowered.
I send you beams of virtual good vibes.