Caring for a Loved One or Patient with Dementia Who Doesn’t Sleep

Disrupted sleep patterns are regrettably the norm for those who are caring for a loved one with dementia. Lack of sleep could yield to notable effects on those who are involved, both loved one or patient, and caregiver. The best solution for such a problem is to help your loved one or client get into sleep cycles that will promote efficiency and general well-being.

Each person’s physical chemistry, life experiences, and surroundings are factors that need to be considered in caring for dementia patients, and in establishing a care plan for patient with dementia. There’s no single perfect answer that can act as a universal plan for everyone.

You need to be patient and creative so you can find the solution that will work best for your loved one or client. The following are some ways on how to deal with a loved one with dementia, which could result to having the best care for dementia patients.

How to Deal with a Loved One with Dementia

1. Evaluate Physical Needs and Sleep Times

How to deal with a loved one with dementia should start with this. If you notice an unexpected radical change in your loved one’s sleep patterns, remind yourself that it’s not a usual happening in the aging process. It could possibly be a sign of an unrevealed physical problem.

Ask your loved one about what he or she is feeling and consult your doctor to ascertain what truly is going on with your loved one’s physical health. This is crucial in caring for a loved one with dementia. Identifying the problem is the first step in getting the appropriate treatment.

3. Be Aware of Food and Drink Intake

Your chosen care plan for dementia should include being mindful of what your loved one eats and drinks. Caring for a loved one with dementia needs to ensure putting a limit on your loved one’s fluid intake in the evening.

To avoid more clinical concerns, make sure that the limit you imposed is appropriate and won’t cause any dehydration. It pays to be meticulous on how to deal with a loved one with dementia. Also, always consult a doctor when making these adjustments.

It would be best if your loved one will avoid drinking tea, coffee, chocolate, or even the decaffeinated versions four hours prior to your loved one’s bedtime. Snacks after dinner could be eaten but choose those that can promote sleep.

Suggested snacks are yogurt, crackers, whole grain cereals and breads, cheese, peanut butter, hummus, pineapple, bananas, and cherry juice. In caring for a loved one with dementia, remember that these snacks are to be eaten an hour before sleep time.

4. Have a Matching Daily Rhythm

How to deal with a loved one with dementia using biological rhythms? Every person has his or her own body rhythm. These are brought about by a combination of the person’s intrinsic factors with his or her usual surroundings. This biological rhythm is affected by physical, mental, and behavioral shifts that happen in a span of 24 hours.

Here are more tips on how to cope with a loved one with dementia. Try to match your biological rhythm with your loved one’s own biorhythm. This will encourage a reliable routine. Maintain specific times for waking up, morning rituals, eating, exercising, work or social activities, bathing, and going to sleep.

The consistent activities on the specific times will form both of your biological rhythms, which can only be good for caring for a loved one with dementia.

On how to deal with a loved one with dementia remember that during the development stage of your biological rhythms, it’s imperative that you include times for resting. Doing too many activities could result to exhaustion and that could only lead to worsened conditions and behaviors.

5. Minimize Noise During Sleep Hours, But Also Employ Noise if it Works

In caring for dementia patients, make sure that during night time noise from the surroundings should be minimized and it would be best if the patient doesn’t engage in stimulating activities. An example of the said activity is watching TV because it could also lead to an upsetting scenario.

A good alternative for this is to listen to relaxing music. You can even involve some aromatherapy using soothing scents. You can also add oils of the same scent on your loved one’s bath water to promote more relaxation.

6. Restroom Use

The best care for dementia patients should encourage going to the restroom before sleep time. Aside from feeling better because of the relaxing bath, it’s important that your loved one urinates or defecates before sleep. This is to prevent waking up in the middle of the night for unexpected bathroom issues.

If matching biological rhythms are not developed, the patient could experience sundowning. It’s a set of symptoms that increases confusion and happens during late afternoons until the evenings. These symptoms are heightened disorientation, pacing, anxiety, and even aggression.

7. Caring for a Loved One with Dementia and Sundowning

Caring for a loved one with dementia can yield better results by setting the suggested rhythm, which can get rid of or decrease the mentioned symptoms.

How to cope with a loved one with dementia when sundowning is experienced? A perfect example for this is when sundowning happens in a facility. The usual culprits for the occurrence of sundowning are additional activities and/or the absence or insufficiency of organized activities during late afternoons or in the evenings.

When staff comes in and out of the facility and even say goodbye to their colleagues, patients may get the sense that it’s time for them to go home or to prepare things for their children. Those who have memory problems would have the tendency to leave as well.

How to deal with a loved one with dementia in these situations? It would be ideal to engage them in activities that are meaningful to them during this period of time.

8. Evaluate the Surroundings

For those who are caring for a loved one with dementia, remember that light and darkness plays an important role in the patient’s biological rhythm. When sunlight disappears, such visual happening transmits signals to everyone’s brains.

The pineal gland in your brain will make additional production of the hormone called melatonin. The increase of melatonin production will make you feel sleepier.

Here are more tips on how to deal with a loved one with dementia. Have proper lighting in the room during daytime. Encourage your loved one to go outdoors and spend some time under the sun. During night time, use a night light to give a sense of safety.

You can even add a body pillow beside him or her to give comfort to those who used to sleep with a partner for years. Spray a familiar scent on the pillow to remind the patient of their former partner. Check the mattress too. Some springs could be sticking up or the mattress could be slipping off the bed or it already became uncomfortable.

In caring for a loved one with dementia, remember that matching your biorhythm with your partner’s biorhythm could take time, so be patient. Don’t expect immediate results. There’s no universal solution on how to deal with a loved one with dementia, so you need to try things and be vigilant in recognizing which one truly works best for your loved one or client.

9. Be Aware of Wandering for Dementia

It is important to stay connected with your loved one or patient during the evening hours. This includes monitoring their movements, sleep patterns, and general mood in during sleep times. If wandering is an issue, this is serious, and you should take action immediately. GPS tracking devices for patients and loved ones with dementia are a vital solution. Research these wearables and the LocateMotion app to help you stay connected.


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