Good sleep is critical for people of all ages, given its importance to weight loss, concentration, heart health, healthy metabolism, mental health and more.
As we age and our health needs change, a good night’s sleep remains a critical need, as proper sleep has significant positive impact on concentration, memory and immune health among the elderly. In addition, a poor night’s sleep can lead to debilitating fatigue throughout the day, making it difficult to perform regular activities of daily living.
What’s more, when our elderly loved ones sleep poorly, they aren’t the only ones affected. Poor sleep can not only negatively impact their health, but also the health of the family caregivers who perhaps lose their own sleep because of it.
What can be done to improve sleep among the elderly?
While many elderly with nightly sleep issues end up with a prescription drug aid, doctors say drugs usually are not the best solution. Instead, doctors recommend making simple lifestyle changes — improving “sleep hygiene” — to boost sleep.
Sleep hygiene improvements can help ensure that time in bed is more fruitful; among them are sticking to a regular bedtime, avoiding screens before bed, bathing before bedtime, getting plenty of exercise throughout the day (but not within four hours of bedtime), and avoiding afternoon caffeine and spicy foods.
Hiring an at-home caregiver can help an elderly loved one manage many of these important tasks. A caregiver can assist with walks and other activities and can help with bathing and timekeeping tasks to ensure that bedtime can be consistent. A caregiver also can help manage food and drink in the afternoon to ensure that loved ones can keep consistent.
If nighttime pain is preventing sleep, a caregiver also can help with medication management, ensuring proper and timely dosage.
Caregivers also can monitor other potential causes for sleep interruptions and work with the family to find solutions to specific issues, such as sleep apnea, a sleep disorder marked by repeated interruptions to breathing. Caregivers also can help family members in determining, with guidance from the family doctor, what changes to sleep patterns are a part of normal aging.
Take My Hand At-Home Care works with families throughout Whatcom County to care for their elderly loved ones. Whether you need four hours in the afternoon to help prepare for bed or a 12-hour shift to assist with bedtime activities and monitor sleep, Take My Hand can help. Just give us a call to discuss your needs.