Is Your Elderly Relative Getting Enough Sleep?

If you are looking after an elderly relative as a full time or part time carer, you will be keen to make sure they are happy and healthy. There are many signs to look out for that suggest that they may not be okay, such as bruises or other injuries, , problems with getting around the home and extreme forgetfulness. There could be various causes for these issues, but one important thing to look out for is whether or not they are getting enough sleep.

As people become older, they often have more trouble sleeping, which could include both falling asleep and staying asleep. Here are some tips on what to look out for, how you can help and above all, help them stay healthy and rested.

Possible Problems that Prevent Sleep in the elderly

One issue that can become worse as people age is snoring. If someone suffers from snoring, not only can this disturb their partner but it can also disturb theirown sleep.

Sleep apnoea is another potential problem, and this is where they stop breathing periodically during the night. This can lead to more serious problems like depression and cardiovascular disease. It can sometimes be due to anxiety or stress, as well as pain or injury.

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is another problem that can prevent a good night’s sleep, and it tends to get worse with age. And then there are other more serious conditions that can cause sleep problems, including Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and more.

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Look Out for the Signs of Sleep Problems

Look out for signs that your elderly relative is experiencing difficulty sleeping. Some of the most common signs include:

  • Feeling sleepy in the evening but being unable to actually fall asleep
  • Feeling tired during the day even though they slept all night
  • Finding it difficult to get back to sleep once they have woken up in the night
  • Having difficulty staying awake during the day
  • Experiencing problems with concentration during the day

If you notice any signs that concern you, talk to your relative. Ask them to tell you if they are experiencing any difficulties, this is the first step to getting treatment.

Tips to Sleep Better

Often there is no underlying medical condition for people who are not sleeping properly. In this situation, there are things that you can do that could help them sleep better.

  • Their daytime habits may need changing. For example, they may not be socialising much, so consider getting out and about to meet up with friends.
  • If they are not getting enough exercise during the day, this could affect their sleep. Try to encourage your relative to do more physical activity and get them outside more.
  • They may simply be sleeping at irregular hours, in which case you can try to get them into a more regular sleeping routine.
  • Sometimes simply keeping the TV on when falling asleep can affect the quality of their sleep during the night.
  • You may also want to recommend that they cut their intake of caffeine, nicotine or alcohol, all of which can affect their sleep.
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If you are worried about not being around as much as you would like in order to identify these potential habits affecting sleep, there are options open to you such as respite care or even companionship care. These are affordable and informal ways to receive feedback on your relatives sleeping habits or any other underlying issues causing a problem.

Get Professional Advice if Concerned

If you are worried about your elderly relative, go and see your doctor. If they are constantly tired or complaining about sleeping badly, it could increase their risk of falling, or it could indicate an underlying problem. The doctor may recommend simple changes like cutting down on caffeine, but they may also want to check for other problems. Whatever the issue, try to make sure they get help because it could be affecting their quality of life.