FAQ: What Do I Do if the Night Aide Keeps Falling Asleep?

6 answers | Last updated: Sep 25, 2017
A fellow caregiver asked...

What do I do if the night aide keeps falling asleep?

Expert Answers

Jennifer Voorlas is a geriatric care manager in Los Angeles, California, and president of Geriatric Care Consultants. She has a master's degree in gerontology from the University of Southern California and is certified by NACCM, the National Academy of Certified Care Managers.

If someone you hired to be a night shift aide keeps falling asleep, that's not a good sign. I'd start watching other aspects of his or her behavior more closely.

If the person is otherwise a good caregiver and has other good qualities, bring the issue up and discuss it. Before taking action, try to find out what's going on -- is he or she not getting enough sleep during off-hours? Working a second job? If there's a problem, be clear that the caregiver needs to address it.

Night aides need to get enough sleep at other times so they can present for the older adult during the hours they're paid for. Be firm about the fact that this is a safety issue. If an aide's sleeping on shift, he or she is not going to be aware and able to handle an emergency.

Community Answers

A fellow caregiver answered...

This happened to me. Parents lived at home with no family in town. Mom (mid-late Alz) had fallen and broke her hip. Dad (severe dem) at home alone. 24/7 care was absolute. I wanted to be home when Mom got out of rehab to ensure she was getting what she needed. First night home, she fell in the bathroom. I heard it and ran to her to see her spralled out on the floor. I started asking her questions to assess potential injury, finally, the caregiver heard us talking and came in to see what was happening. Thank GOD I was home. I was furious with the caregiver! The next morning I called the agency to report the issue. She was a good caregiver otherwise, I asked her to stay on their case. The next thing I did was get a baby monitor. I am sure she dozed off regulary, but I insisted she keep the monitor attached to her so that when there was sound from the bedroom, she would feel and hear it at the same time. This did help alot. Sadly, both are in assisted living now, but it worked well while they were home.

A fellow caregiver answered...

My husband had overnight cargivers in addition to day ones. I would find the overnight caregivers asleep on the floor, in the chair, wherever. I finally decided, when heard my husband get up during the night to go to the bathroom and did not hear the caregiver with hm, to have him sleep in our room. As long as I was awakened anyway, it was easier to have him there and we have an adjacent bathroom. I close the bedroom door and everything is fine. Not too much help for my sleep but better than before.

Jennifer v answered...

In addition, I find as a geriatric Care manager on cases that it is nearly impossible to have 1 caregiver who can cover days and nights 7 days a week. It is beneficial to have 2 caregivers on a case to prevent burnout and give the family and the elder a chance to embrace each caregiver's unique style and what they can bring to the table

A fellow caregiver answered...

I own a home care agency and we have a strict policy that overnight shifts are no longer than 8 hours. We use at least 3 caregivers to staff a 7 day week of 3rd shifts to ensure that the caregivers get enough time off for sleep. It is tough to find quiet tasks to do on 3rd shift that won't wake the client but we encourage our caregivers to move around. We also have them set their cell phone alarms to vibrate every 15-30 minutes for spans of time that they are sitting bedside just to be sure that they don't doze off. Also- some people are just not cut out to stay awake on 3rd shift, no matter how much they want to work that shift. In our office, if a caregiver is suspected of sleeping, they are off the case; no exceptions and are not reassigned to a 3rd shift.

Brian'smom answered...

My son is a 37 y/o autistic man with a TBI ( from getting hit by a truck while in a Day program due to caregiver neglect) I got him back home and the night caregivers not only go to sleep in the very nice leather chair in his room, the started getting into bed with him and going to sleep. My son is a fall risk, can't go to bathroom alone, has seizures, may need a rescue med , oxygen, suction, repositioned or 911 called. WE live in AZ, suburb of Phoenix and were told by POLICE and Adult Protective Services it is not a crime for caregivers to go to sleep or sleep in bed with patients. I am a nurse and I have worked nights for 30+ years to be available to care for my son needs./school/appts etc I was always very firm with everyone not to disturb me after a certain time unless it was a life or death emergency because I needed to sleep so I could be awake for my patients. When both my parents had cancer and I was paying for everything I worked 3 years without 1 day off and I worked 132 hrs a week. It can be done but you have to be very disciplined and eat healthy. So if I did it with 3 sick family members I expect people to at least be honest about their own capabilities and not put my son life in harms way. The caregivers are lazy and think caregiving is easy. If it was easy family could do it alone. It is NO Luxury to have strangers in your home. WE have had awful caregivers who lie, cheat, steal, bill for hours they didn't work. They get mad if you ask them to get off their phone or not to smoke. They get their rest but also gav my son poor care, no baths, no food unless I cooked, they came late so I had to do everything before I went to work to care for my own patient. One caregiver hid her pillow and blanket she liked to use while in bed with my son. I lost my job because of poor caregivers for my son and not being able to leave him alone. I have cameras in my home so I have proof and gave it to the authorities. They said the caregivers did nothing illegal so there was nothing they could do UNTIL THEY LET MY SON GET HURT. Not what a mother whose child was allowed to elope/wander into the street over and over until he was finally hit by a truck wanted to hear. These caregivers got to keep their jobs and victimize others.