Aging and Sleep: How Caregivers Can Help Seniors Get Adequate Rest

Interim HealthCare Blogs
Posted: 1/10/2022 3:53 PM by Interim HealthCare
Sleep is elusive at all ages, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 3 adults don’t get adequate sleep. However, this problem is much worse for seniors because of the relationship between aging and sleep. Research has shown that up to 70% of seniors have chronic sleep issues and may not be getting adequate rest.

Since sleep is essential for daily functioning, this is an important issue. Fortunately, as a caregiver, there are many strategies you can utilize to help the seniors in your care get better sleep. Let’s discuss the topic in detail below:

Why Do Seniors Have Trouble Sleeping?

As we age, our bodies change. As a result, so do our sleeping patterns. Seniors often have a harder time falling and staying asleep. There are many reasons seniors can’t sleep, including health conditions, chronic pain, lifestyle choices, needing to urinate often, insomnia, and more. Tackling the root cause is the best way to deal with this problem and ensure your loved one or patient gets the quality sleep they need.

How to Help Seniors Sleep Better and Get Adequate Rest

If you’re a caregiver, especially a night-time caregiver, seniors and sleep may seem incompatible at times. However, this isn’t the case. There are many ways to resolve seniors’ sleep issues. Keep these tips on how to help seniors sleep better in mind when tackling this problem next.

Pay Attention to Their Diet

An essential part of senior care is ensuring your loved one or patient eats well. A healthy and nutritious diet is vital for a good night’s sleep. In addition to getting all the proper nutrients by eating an adequate number of fruits and vegetables, caregivers for seniors should focus on heart-healthy fats and lean proteins since these can aid sleep. They should also ensure that seniors don’t eat large or spicy meals close to their bedtimes since this can keep them awake.

Additionally, caregivers can pay attention to beverages the senior drinks. Before bed, seniors should stick to warm milk or non-caffeinated tea and coffee. Caffeine should be avoided since this can fuel insomnia and interrupted sleep. Some seniors may also benefit from reducing liquid intake before sleeping since this can cause frequent urination throughout the night.

Create a Routine

When it comes to how to help seniors sleep better, one of the ways to achieve this is by creating and maintaining a routine. A specific bedtime routine will allow the senior to associate those steps with sleeping. Whether it’s putting on relaxing music or reading before bed, a routine will help establish structure. Caregivers can also encourage seniors to finish challenging tasks earlier in the day so they can spend their evenings completing more relaxed tasks. Additionally, by sleeping at the same time every day, their bodies know when it’s time to sleep, and it will become habitual.

Avoid Late Naps

Some seniors prefer to nap during the day. However, you should ensure that they don’t nap late in the afternoon or the evening so they can sleep properly at night. This can keep them up at night and interfere with a good night’s rest. Either avoid napping and change the bedtime to an earlier time or ensure that all napping is done in the early afternoon.

Emphasize the Importance of Exercise

Spending time outdoors and taking advantage of the fresh air can help regulate sleeping patterns for seniors with insomnia. Additionally, exercising helps relieve stress and can tire you out, w=ensuring you’re ready to sleep when the time comes. Going outside for evening walks can be a great way to get some physical activity.

Treat All Medical Causes

Often, the reason why seniors can’t sleep is related to their heath. Focusing on tackling these problems head on can significantly improve sleep for your loved one or patient. For example, those with sleep apnea may need sleep apnea machines to sleep properly. Those with restless leg syndrome may need to get that addressed so they can sleep comfortably. In order to help with pain, you can use mattress toppers or pillows to ensure the senior finds a comfortable position to sleep in.

Create a Sleep-Friendly Environment

When it comes to seniors and sleep, one of the most helpful things caregivers can do is create an environment conducive to sleep. This includes using low lighting when preparing for bed (while still ensuring enough light for those with vision problems) and ensuring the room is at a comfortable temperature. It’s much easier to fall asleep in a cooler room, and feeling too hot or too cold can prevent sleep. Blackout curtains can also be helpful for seniors who are light-sensitive.

Look Into Medication and Speak to a Doctor

As a caregiver, you may notice that the senior’s change in medication may affect their sleeping patterns. This can be brought up with the doctor to either change the medication, take the medication at a different time, or even introduce supplements like melatonin. While melatonin is a short-term solution for most, it can lead to other helpful insights.

Interim Healthcare Has Experienced and Qualified Caregivers

One of the reasons it’s so essential to hire an experienced caregiver is because of how comfortable they can make your loved one. Aging and sleep are complicated topics, and qualified caregivers know how to address them in seniors and those suffering from memory loss. They know why seniors can’t sleep and can thus, target those problems to provide relief.

If you’re looking for an experienced caregiver you can trust with your loved one’s health and safety, look no further than Interim Healthcare. We set the standard for senior care and provide several services, including personal care and support, Alzheimer’s and dementia care, respite care, and even medical staffing. Whether you’re looking for a caregiver for your elderly parent or a qualified RN for a hospital or senior home, Interim Healthcare has a host of qualified and vetted candidates. Call us at (636) 717-9292 or reach out to us here.