How much sleep is too much when recovering from a hospitalization?

1 answer | Last updated: Oct 06, 2016
Cekc45 asked...

My grandmother was hospitalized at the beginning of January with bronchitis. After spending a week in the hospital, she was allowed to come back home and now is fully recovered health-wise. However, her energy level seems to be cut in half from what it was from before the hospital stay. She will sleep until 8:00 AM, get up for the morning, and then go down for a nap after lunch that takes up the whole afternoon, get up for dinner, and then go back to bed so she's in bed by 7:00 PM. She's really only up and moving around for about 4 - 5 hours a day. Is this normal? She's 90-years-old and I don't want to push her but am wondering how much a 90-year-old should be sleeping? Should she be up and doing stuff more? How can I motivate her to spend more time up and moving around? I've tried activities like puzzles, crossword puzzles, etc. but she does not use them. What other activities can she do to keep her busy? And how much time each day should she realistically spend sleeping?

Expert Answers

Jennifer Serafin, N.P. is a registered nurse and geriatric nurse practitioner at the Jewish Homes for the Aged in San Francisco.

It sounds like your grandmother has had a difficult recovery from her hospitalization. Sometimes it does take older people a couple of months to recover from a major hospitalization. However, here are some thoughts I had when I read through your letter:

1) Is she really sleeping in bed or does she just lie there? Is she really sleeping all night? Maybe she is depressed? Many times, being sick and going to the hospital are really hard on older people. Perhaps she needs an antidepressant? 2) How is she eating? Maybe she has no energy due to low appetite. 3) What other health problems does she have? Are any of them causing her problems now? Is she anemic?
4) Is she on any new medications? Some medications can cause sleepiness as a side effect.

I think that if you are really concerned about her, and especially if this is a big change from her previous self, I would take her to visit her health care provider to see what is going on. They should check her labwork (to see if she is anemic)and check her for depression. Good luck!