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What Should You Know About Care for Seniors with Insomnia?

May, 25 2022

Care for Seniors

Insomnia is a dreaded word for many people as millions of people suffer from this sleep disorder. Recent studies state that 30% of people have short-term insomnia, and at least 10% of people are insomniacs with long-lasting sleep disorders. This blog discusses insomnia symptoms in older adults, caring for adults with insomnia, and how in-home care services can help.

What Is Insomnia in Elderly Adults?

Scientific research says adults should sleep at least 7-9 hours every day to lead a healthy lifestyle, irrespective of their age. However, in reality, around 23-24% of elderly people suffer from insomnia. While short-term insomnia can cause extreme fatigue and concentration difficulties, eventually, it can lead to an enhanced risk of other diseases.

Although insomnia can hit people of any age, seniors are most troubled with this disorder.

What Changes to Expect in Your Regular Sleep Patterns as You Age?

With increasing age, your body undergoes many radical changes internally and externally. Some of these changes can affect the quality of life that you lead. For instance, it can alter your sleeping patterns. Some common challenges that you can face with your sleep pattern as you age include:

  • Getting up earlier in the morning than your usual time
  • Getting exhausted easily in the evening
  • Waking up several times during the night
  • Having difficulty falling asleep

All these changes happen to your body as you age because of the hormonal changes within your body. For instance, the hormone melatonin regulates your sleep. However, with age, your body produces less melatonin which can cause insomnia.

A typical sleep cycle can be divided into four different phases or stages. The first two stages are non-rapid eye movement or NREM, the third one is the heavy NREM, and the final stage is the rapid eye movement or the REM. Older adults experience less of the third stage or the heavy NREM stage. This is why they wake up several times during the night, making them fatigued during the daytime.

Symptoms of Insomnia

If your elderly loved one intends to sleep early in the evening and wake up earlier than usual with increasing age, it should not be considered a sleep disorder. However, if you notice any of the following symptoms regularly in your senior loved one, they might have insomnia:

  • Have trouble falling asleep even when they feel tired
  • Being unable to go back to sleep easily once you awaken
  • Feeling tired despite a night's rest
  • Feeling irritable throughout the day
  • Have difficulty concentrating on their daily tasks during the day
  • Have trouble handling their emotions
  • Relying on alcohol to fall asleep

Causes of Insomnia in Elderly Adults

There can be several factors behind insomnia in elderly adults that include the following:

  • Change in the regular sleeping patterns
  • Consumption of medication that may include antidepressants, nasal decongestants, diuretics, hypertension medicine, etc.
  • Other disorders like restless leg syndrome and sleep apnea
  • Other chronic health issues include diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson’s Disease, gastrointestinal conditions, cardiovascular issues, dementia, etc.
  • Irregular lifestyle habits like no physical activity
  • Alcohol or caffeine consumption late at night
  • Smoking
  • Any work or personal life stress that can affect your emotional well being

Home Care Strategies That You Can Practice to Address Insomnia

One of the first things doctors will recommend is creating a peaceful environment at home during bedtime. Here are some practical things you can do at home to manage insomnia symptoms:

  • Turn off the lights and turn on the air conditioner with a cooler temperature.
  • Keep all mobile phones and other electronic devices away from your senior’s sleeping room.
  • Ensure that your senior adult avoids consuming caffeine and alcohol before bedtime
  • Encourage your elderly loved one to quit smoking
  • Make sure that your senior is physically active, exercises regularly, and eats nutritious food.
  • Ascertain that your senior wakes up at a fixed time in the mornings every day, does not nap during the day, even if they’re a bit exhausted, and goes to sleep at the same time every day, establishing a routine
  • Keep a sleep journal to record your senior’s sleeping and awakening times to help the doctor treat insomnia.

However, if these home strategies do not work for you effectively, speak with a doctor. You may be prescribed medications or recommended to make lifestyle changes to manage the condition.

Additionally, you might consider opting for professional home care services or respite care services to better care for your elderly. These services provide skilled and experienced caregivers licensed to care for older adults, especially those with insomnia, cardiovascular issues, and more.

Looking for home care in Orange County? Newport Home Care provides expert senior care professionals specializing in caring for adults with diverse medical conditions, including insomnia, at affordable prices. Contact us today to get compassionate professional care for your elderly loved one.

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