My mother has Alzheimer/dementia - she is having problems...

6 answers | Last updated: Oct 19, 2016
Zippy do da asked...

My mother has Alzheimer/dementia - she is having problems sleeping. Have try giving her Melatonin sometimes it helps. Have looked into sleep-aid but am afraid that my mother will get addicted to them what I have read most people do. Please advise Thanks!

Expert Answers

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.

Needing sleep help with Alzheimer's is quite common. If your Physician has okayed the use of Melatonin to help your mother sleep then I would use it without much reservation. Melatonin is a natural hormone made by the body's pineal gland; it regulates our sleep-wake cycle and has few side effects when used according to directions. The most frequent reason for poor nightime sleep is not enough activity during the day. The sleep-wake cycle actually gets confused as to whether it is day or night. Light exercise like a short walk an hour or so before going to bed, warm milk, and soft background music all help to make the AD person feel a bit more sleepy at bedtime.
The use of Benedryl is rather widespread in homes where there is an AD person and sleep is problematic. I am not a physician and you should check with one before using Benedryl or other popular meds used to treat other symptoms The best bet remains keeping mother as active as possible during daytime hours. When the person with AD loses sleep, the carepartner often goes without proper sleep. Make sure you are taking care of yourself - perhaps have someone else take mom for a walk while you get a small daytime nap!

Community Answers

Zippy do da answered...

Thanks! for your reply but you are not telling me anything I already know. I have done research on AD - I bought a book "The Alzheimer's Action Plan" which has help me alot. I am a Pharmacy Tech so I keep up with my mother's meds and make sure that new meds do not interact with her presence ones. As for the walking my mother only does short distance. If it was up to her she be in a wheelchair. I only use the wheelchair for long distances. My mother is very happy doing as little as possible. She does attend an adult day care but they have a very hard time getting her to participate in the activities. She does the activities if she feels like it. The adult day care center she attend is a very nice, pleasant and full of activities. Just wish she would participate.

Deborah cooke answered...

I can hear your frustrationg very clearly. Sleeping can become problematic in those with Alzheimer's Disease. And..this is really frustrating for the family caregiver, especially if the patient lives with you.

I'm happy to hear the melatonin does work sometimes. That's positive. However, I agree with your concern about using other medications as they can be addictive or poor side effects (including increased risk for falls).

Activity is very important, but it sounds like she isn't a fan of this. Maybe the day care center isn't engaging her in the activities she likes. And make sure she isn't watching too much TV. That alone is unproductive and addicting for any of us.

Also important is sleep hygiene. What has been her normal routine for bedtime? Make sure you try to follow that. Maintain a regular sleep/wake time; avoid napping; offer warm milk or herbal tea; avoid decaf beverages after 11am; try aromotherapy, etc. The ideas are endless and likely are not new to you. But hopefully considering these may be helpful.

Finally, inquire about her routines at the day center. If she is napping frequently, many centers are beginning to open adult night care. It's the same concept as adult day care, but is offered in the evening/night hours. It's an alternative to consider if you need it.

I know your experience is very frustrating. Hang in there. It's easier to say than do. I hope this is somewhat helpful.

Zippy do da answered...

Deborah, Thank you! for your suggestions. I will look into her routine at the Center. My mother can be a difficult client when she does not feel like doing certain activities. My mother entertains herself with magazines (your regular Womens magazines-some catalogs). She is not a fan of TV. She says today tv is full of junk. The only time I got a favorable comment was during the election and I told her that we had a woman running for vice-president. She said times are changing. We have a set routine it was one of the first things I learned. Makes your daily life much better. You mention hygiene well she is becoming more incontinent but her accidents happen during the day & night. I do take her to the bathroom before she goes to bed and there is potty chair right by her bedside incase she has to go during the night. As for an Adult Center open at night time we don't have one available. This idea has cross our minds. Again Thanks! for all your suggestions :)

Judith16 answered...

have you tried anything natural to help her sleep. I hear their the best things to take with problems like that and you dont get addicted. Feel free to email jgonzalez1292@yahoo.comme or visit my profile for help or questions.

Twaltz answered...

have you tried antidepresents. like Amitriptyline, there is another one more commonly used but i can't remmber the name.Given in a low dose,they work quite well. At the low dose they are not for depresion. I have big trouble sleeping since i have become disabled. I don't want the ones that are addicting either, these are not. It might worth a try. Good luck. I hope it works, I have tried things over the last 14 yrs, this has worked the best for me. :-)