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Home  >  Education Center   >   Blog   >   November 2014   >   Did You Know? Sleep Patterns Change in the Elderly

Did You Know? Sleep Patterns Change in the Elderly

Posted: 11/19/2014 2:57 PM by Interim HealthCare
There are Many Health and Safety Problems Associated with Sleeplessness  Among Seniors

The most common complaint among the elderly is lack of sleep, also known as insomnia. While some complain with interrupted sleep patterns, others complain with losing entire nights of sleep. The health problems associated with insomnia include heart disease, arthritis, obesity, and some cancers.

Continual sleeplessness among the elderly can cause slower responses and fatigue, putting them at risk of falling and increasing the likelihood of accidents due to sleeplessness alone. If this sounds like your elderly mother, then keep reading to find out how you can help. There are a number of reasons for the change in sleep patterns among the elderly and they may include the following:

Depression and Anxiety
Depression can cause sleepless nights, as the symptoms of depression can often interfere with sleep. When depression is treated and symptoms improve, it often will resolve abnormal sleep patterns. When depression is caused from a major life event such as losing a loved one, or loss of income, sleep patterns tend to be temporarily disrupted. Treating depression for the elderly suffering from continual sleeplessness is urgent, to prevent the risk of more serious health problems.

Anxiety often causes sleepless nights and interrupted sleep patterns. Typical anxiety caused from stressful events often resolve after worry and stress subside. Once stress and anxiety are eliminated, sleep patterns improve. You should also consider hiring senior care services to help your senior feel their needs are met and to have less stress.

Avoiding caffeine is a must for those suffering from insomnia. Drinks such as coffee, tea, caffeinated beverages such as sodas, as well as foods containing chocolate have caffeine should be avoided. It is also important to eliminate sugar, as sugar acts as a stimulant and promotes energy. Checking labels is important when eliminating sugar from the diet. Some products such as bread and cereals contain enough sugar to interrupt sleep.

Daily Routine including Physical Activity
Improving sleep patterns in the elderly involves incorporating a daily routine. A routine should involve some form of physical activity such as walking, light weight lifting, or yoga and is a great way to help your parent sleep better. Physical activity improves symptoms of stress and anxiety, eliminates depression, and increases circulation. Just make sure not to have your senior exercise too close to their bedtime or it will have the opposite effect.

Eliminating sleep disturbances in the elderly include going to bed every night at the same time, and removing all distractions from the bedroom such as televisions, and computers. Taking a warm bath prior to bedtime will help relax tense muscles, promoting a more restful sleep. Your senior could also relax in bed with a book, some knitting or crocheting, or a cup of warm tea (as long as they use the bathroom before falling asleep).

If you have an aging loved one and are considering home care services, contact Interim HealthCare today. G+

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