Are there any sleep aids that don't have side effects for dementia patients?

Elizabetht asked...

I have a question. My mom is 76 and suffers from moderate dementia, and I think that she does need some medication to aid her sleeplessness. I do understand that most sleep aid is harmful for people who suffers from dementia. Can you please tell me if there is anything out there that can help her sleep with no adverse or side effects or something that would not make her symptoms worsen? She has already tried several that were prescribed by her doctor. Unfortunately, she did not fare well on those.

Expert Answer

Joanne Koenig Coste is a nationally recognized expert on Alzheimer's care and an outspoken advocate for patient and family care. She is the author of Learning to Speak Alzheimer's. Also, she currently is in private practice as an Alzheimer's family therapist. Ms. Koenig Coste also serves as President of Alzheimer Consulting Associates, implementing state-of-the-art Alzheimer care throughout the United States.

Sleep patterns can be drastically affected by Alzheimer's disease and by other related disorders that cause the symptom of dementia.

Of greatest importance, is being sure your parent is kept busy during the day with easy repetitive chores and tasks along with exercise and social interaction to help tire her while preparing her for an adequate night's sleep. Folding clothes, setting table, dusting are all simple tasks that can make her feel helpful and contributing; the outcome does not matter!

There are over-the-counter meds and alternative herbs and supplements that have been reported to help sleeplessness. These may be worth a try. Before intrducing any new product, be sure to check with both your physician and your pharmacist for efficacy and possible side-effects.

It is frequently difficult to find the most effective treatments for elderly folks and, in particular, those with a dementia. The possible reactions and the side-effects seem to be heightened, making the ability to find the most appropriate products very complicated. I do know that some children's medications used to treat allergies seem to aid sleep in AD people and may be worth a try. Also some alternative-supplements used by travelers may also be helpful. Again, check with your doctor before introducing any new products as the interaction between meds and natural herbs or supplements may be more harmful than the sleeplessness.

Be sure to take care of yourself.