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Contrary to popular belief, sleep disturbances are not, and should not be accepted as a normal part of aging. With age, a person’s circadian rhythms have changed. This simply means that an older person may go to bed earlier and wake up earlier than a younger person. This does not mean, however, that they should be getting any less sleep than their younger counterparts.
If you provide home care for a parent and notice he or she only sleeps a few hours each night, it is only a problem if fatigue begins to overtake his or her life. For instance, if your loved one has a hard time keeping their eyes open during the day, dozes off during conversation, seems excessively sleepy when driving or has an increasingly hard time remembering things, you may need to look more closely at their sleep habits.
Lack of sleep has been linked to obesity, heart disease and mood disorders, and often causes physical health to decline as the result of the senior not having enough energy to exercise. Along with these physical issues, insomnia (the inability to fall or stay asleep) is often very closely linked to depression and anxiety. Because sleep can impair mood and impaired mood can result in impaired quality and quantity of sleep, it can be difficult to tell which came first – the sleep loss or the depression. If you notice either symptom in an aging parent or loved one, it is best to schedule an appointment with his or her primary care physician to better pinpoint the problem and find a solution.
For the elderly, one of the major factors that causes sleep disorders is medication. As your loved one is prescribed more and more medication to control his or her health, the chances of the medicine disturbing the natural sleep cycle are higher. If you believe your senior has a sleep disorder, discuss all medications with his or her doctor to determine if there is a better alternative that would not affect sleep.
The stress and anxiety of many changes in your loved one’s life can also cause him or her to not sleep well. If this seems to be the case, find ways to relax them towards the evening. Perhaps a warm bath and glass of milk will do the trick, or maybe they like to relax and read the newspaper at the end of the day. Help them establish a bedtime routine that gets their body relaxed and ready to enjoy a restful night of sleep.
If you are unable to assist your loved one with their nighttime routine or believe they may need extra assistance during the evening hours or overnight, help is available. Home Care Assistance of Boca Raton is a leading provider of in-home senior care, offering hourly, overnight and live-in care for seniors in Boca Raton. And we offer complimentary, no-obligation consultations, so give us a call today at 561-826-9282 and find out how we can help your aging parent or loved one age in place safely and comfortably!