How Is Sleep Affected by the Aging Process?

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Older adults often complain they don’t sleep as well as they did when they were younger. Your senior loved one’s poor sleep habits may also mean you’re waking up frequently throughout the night. Understanding why your loved one’s sleep habits change with age can help you begin to come up with solutions so everyone can get enough rest.

Shorter Sleep Cycles

Aging causes changes to happen within the brain that affect sleep patterns. Seniors tend to have shorter cycles between the different phases of sleep, and this can cause them to sleep lighter and wake up earlier. There isn’t much that can be done about natural changes in the brain, but seniors can practice good sleep hygiene to counteract some of the effects.

Medication Side Effects

Certain medications can cause seniors to feel more tired during the day, and this can lead to napping that interferes with bedtime. Other medications may cause seniors to have vivid dreams that wake them up. If your parent’s medicine causes severe sleep disruptions, it may be necessary to work with your loved one’s physician to change the dosage.

Incontinence & Frequent Urination

Waking up to an incontinence accident is very disruptive for seniors. The frequent need to urinate may also cause seniors to wake up several times each night to use the restroom. Medications can sometimes help with this issue, and seniors can make some minor lifestyle changes. For instance, seniors may need to limit how much they drink an hour or two before they go to bed.

A home caregiver can be a wonderful source of support if your loved one needs help making healthy lifestyle changes that enhance his or her ability to sleep well. Families who find it difficult to care for their aging loved ones without assistance can benefit greatly from professional respite care. Richmond, VA, family caregivers who need a break from their caregiving duties can turn to Home Care Assistance. Using our proprietary Balanced Care Method, our respite caregivers can encourage your loved one to eat well, exercise regularly, get plenty of mental and social stimulation, and focus on other lifestyle factors that promote longevity.

Confusion about Time & Place

A senior with dementia might wake up and think it’s morning when it’s still the middle of the night. Delusions can also cause seniors to think it’s time to do things that aren’t necessary. For example, your loved one might wake up and think he or she needs to go to work in the early morning hours. Seniors who are at risk for wandering need to be monitored overnight to keep them safe.

If you’re the primary caregiver for a senior family member and are looking for professional senior home care, Home Care Assistance should be your top choice. Our dedicated and compassionate caregivers are committed to helping older adults address their health issues and enjoy a higher quality of life in the golden years.

Sleep Apnea & Other Disorders

Aging also increases health issues that can alter how well your loved one sleeps. Sleep apnea may require your loved one to use a CPAP machine. Seniors may also have chronic pain that keeps them up at night, or they may even sleepwalk. Health issues that affect sleep need to be discussed with your loved one’s physician. Make sure your loved one has a way to safely get to appointments, and help him or her maintain any prescribed breathing devices and remember when to take medication.

Fear & Anxiety

Seniors may also experience anxiety about going to sleep that can cause them to try to stay awake for as long as possible. Talk to your loved one about his or her worries. If your loved one is scared of falling in the middle of the night or having a break-in, hire an overnight companion to provide a sense of security.

For seniors with anxiety that makes it difficult to sleep through the night, having a professional caregiver close by can provide a sense of comfort. Seniors can face a variety of challenges as they age, many of which can be mitigated with the help of professional in-home caregivers who provide high-quality elderly home care. Richmond families trust Home Care Assistance to help their elderly loved ones age in place safely and comfortably. Call us at Richmond (804) 741-0009 or Williamsburg (757) 220-3151 today to talk to one of our compassionate Care Managers about our high-quality home care services.