Is my wife's Alzheimer's causing her to fall asleep frequently during the day?

Family man asked...

My wife is in early to mid moderate stage. She has started to doze off quite frequently. I have noticed this happening over the last month or so. It was mostly at night around 7 or 8 pm, but now she dozes off very often during the day. She sleeps well at night and appears well rested. Is this normal with the illness? What could be causing this change? She increased her Aricept to 23mil about 3 months ago. Not sure if this may be having some effect? Her Neurologist is in office Monday and I plan on calling him to ask same question.

Expert Answer

Ron Kauffman is a certified senior advisor (CSA), senior lifestyle radio host, syndicated newspaper columnist, and the author of Caring for a Loved One With Alzheimer's Disease. In addition, Kauffman is also the primary caregiver for his mother, who has Alzheimer's.

Dear caregiving husband:

Dementia has many different effects on people, and the drugs used to treat patients also impact behaviors and habits. I honestly cannot tell you that your wife's increased naps and dozing are due to her dementia or to drugs or a combination of both.

You've actually come up with the best approach on your own. Tell your wife's neurologist about the changes in her sleep and behavior patterns and ask him if she is possibly over-medicated or if her frequent dozing during the day is part of her "normal" decline with the disease.

It's also possible that your wife is not being socially stimulated with enough activities, visits with other people or by being part of a group at a senior center or Alzheimer's group. You might discuss these ideas with her neurologist to see what he thinks. Perhaps you'll need to increase her social stimulation to keep her both awake and more engaged in activities and life. Doing this will enhance her quality of life and fulfill a part of her day that may be missing.

I wish I could give you a more definitive answer, but as I stated, you're on the right track. With the help of the neurologist and some experimentation involving increased activities, you make find the answer to your question. Best of luck, I know you'll resolve this to your satisfaction.