What can we give my mother to help her sleep?

2 answers | Last updated: Oct 12, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

My wife and I take care of my mother, who is in the final stage of Alzheimer's. We have overcome most of the problems we have come too except now she does not sleep at all. We are trying to find out if there are any medications anyone has tried that does not drug the person to a point that they are like a walking zombie.

We feed my mom. She wears pull-ups now. We dress her and give her baths. She does get out of bed yet at times and, when God blesses, us we get more than one word responses. (But this is not often.) Even with all the support and medical help we have, the sleep and medication has now become a problem we can not figure out as of 10/28/2010. I am confident we will overcome this as we have overcome all the other things we have had to face.

I leave with God Bless anyone who loves someone so much to dedicate their life to caring for someone with Alzheimer's as it is truly a labor of LOVE!!!


Expert Answers

Ladislav Volicer, M.D., Ph.D., is recognized as an international expert on advanced dementia care. He is a courtesy full professor at the School of Aging Studies, University of South Florida, Tampa, and visiting professor at the Third Medical Faculty, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic. Twenty-five years ago, he established one of the first dementia special care units.

Before you resort to a medication you might want to try non-pharmacological strategies. It may help if you could keep your mother awake during the day by providing some activity for her. I do not know if she would be still able to sort cards or tokens, or watch an old movie or TV program. If that does not help you might want to try trazodone. It is a weak antidepressant that also promotes sleep.


Community Answers

Light seeker answered...

Thanks Doc

I have been busy as I am sure understand. I would like to give you a little more of what has been going on so you may better understand where we or. Things got worse about 2 years ago right after my Dad died. My Mom has diabites and sarosses of the liver (sorry know its mispelled)and after my Dad died we realized my Mom had been retaining fluid. (7 liters of fluid!) At that time she could do just about every thing. About may be a month ago my Mom got so bad we though she was going to die. She was out of it complete so we took her off meds and we could barely get water in her. Then a Blessing and Miricle from God after about 3 days of nothing she woke up and not just woke up but was talking full sentences walking and eating on her own. It lasted about 2 days of what we never expected to see again. So we kept her off the meds as we felt ther may have been a chance she was over medicated. (we do every thing consulting doctors!!!) Even before this the diabetes had all but gone! Going from giveing her pills and shots to 150 and well under sugar levels. Even now her levels with no medication stays well under 200. Sorry trying to give you just a little history as now my Mom is not on any medication. Except for time to time we now do fluid pills and border on doing that as she is up and down on how well she does with fluid intake. Last week we had 4 liter of fluid removed from my Mom. We felt it was a chance that some of the restlessness she had been having was due to the discomfort from the fluid. My Mom has not slept day or night now for over 3 weeks. She still does not sleep now but her restless nights or not as bad as before the fluid removal. We have tried sleeping pills and none of them work in putting her to sleep. Just drugs her up. The Traxodone we have had her on in the past as my Mom has had a history of nervous break down. We have not given her this medication of late but may now after reading you reply. Doc my Mom does not show pain when she had the fluid removed and they did what they did she did not flintch!!! She has not shown pain in awhile. But at the same time comunication has not been much for a very long time now. At this moment it is luck for us to get a head nod. We now have a problem with swelling feet and now her right hand. (yes its cold to the touch, and thanks I am sure that came to mine.) We think this may be due to the liver as her eyes or also yellow and she has the bruseing and such going on. (God give me strength, sorry this does take its toll on me mentally at times) There is so much I have learned Doc as when I do not know I study and do not always like what I learn as it hurts some times. Its yes we understand this is an up and down trip good days and bad. Learned the hard way about the taking them out of there enviroment to her on that one last trip. Then was told that one. Good chance some of what we or experenceing now is due to the fluid tap. Today is a good day, got up cleaned the soiled bed and Mom then hand feed her. Just a nod in the comunications and what use to be a dance step to me is now a ball and chain kind of walk. All I have learned tells me not sleeping is bad but when I read all I come up with is medical mystery!!! I am the proud son of a Marine, there is no giving up and giving in!!! I've made promises that I will not break and even though I never saw myself doing what I do its not that bad. I am blessed were many or not. Family and friends make all the difference. I thank my God every day for all my blessing!!! Todays a good day for us Doc will try the med. again see what happens. I've had a chance to catch up on my sleep a little, and was not up the hole night. I watched my daughter give my Mom a hug and even though it is going to rain out side today things or the best they can be. All my thanks to you and all the people on this site. May God Bless You All and keep you safe and strong!!!