In June we celebrate the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. For caregivers of those living with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, every day can feel like the longest day. For this reason, the Alzheimer’s Association invites people all over the world to fight the darkness of Alzheimer’s and raise funds and awareness for their many initiatives.

As we have learned during this pandemic, those with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia are particularly vulnerable to the effects of loneliness, and their caregivers are often impacted as well.

Being a dementia caregiver is a full-time job. Between assisting with activities of daily living and monitoring a loved one’s safety, the caregiver’s own health and well-being can often be put on the back burner.

Caregivers can often become overwhelmed and stressed to the point of physical and mental exhaustion. Caring for a loved one who is not sleeping well or is sleeping during the day and not at night, is a common cause for caregiver stress.

Here are a few tips that may help with sleep problems:

  1. Make sure your loved one is getting enough exercise during the day and, if possible, allow short naps but not extended ones.
  2. Serve a heavier meal at lunchtime and a lighter meal in the evening with a snack before bed if necessary. Sometimes a full belly at night can interfere with sleeping.
  3. Utilize light to your advantage by opening shades and curtains during day hours. Not only is sunlight energizing, but it helps to orient your loved one to the time of day. Close the curtains and shade in the evening as part of a peaceful evening routine.
  4. Limit your loved one’s caffeine intake during the day and limit fluids late in the evening.
  5. Encourage your loved one to go to bed at the same time each night.
  6. If you are concerned about your loved one wandering during the night, consider using an alarm that will alert you if your loved one is up and about. Alarmed mats next to the side of the bed or attached to the bedroom door are options.
  7. Talk to your loved one’s medical provider and inquire about the use of melatonin. Stay away from over the counter sleep aids which are contraindicated for older persons with dementia.

In order to care for a loved one with dementia, the caregiver requires a good night’s sleep. If your loved one is having sleep issues, be sure to reach out to their medical provider and to the Alzheimer’s Association for assistance. Sweet dreams!

By: Mary Koenig, Administrator at The Heritage

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