Sleeps a lot during the day

  All Alzheimer's Symptoms

When it happens: Severe-stage dementia

Why it happens: If your loved one's sleep-wake cycle doesn't seem too disrupted -- that is, he or she also sleeps at night -- this daytime sleep is likely a function of the toll that the disease is taking (along with other chronic illnesses, if they're present). It may not be sleep at all, but a resting state. Other medical causes can include depression, medication side effects, or another health issue.

What you can do:

  • Be sure to mention a noticeable increase in sleep to your loved one's doctor in case it's a sign of something correctible, such as a medication.

  • Don't just give up. It can be hard to communicate with, or know what to say to, a person who seems pretty much sacked-out and unresponsive. But your presence is felt and probably appreciated, so you don't want to leave the person alone constantly. You may also be needed.

  • Still, don't feel you must be a 24-hour entertainment channel, either. The resting is biologically necessary.

  • Stop talking when the person seems to shut down, and casually pick up talking when your loved one seems alert again.

  • If you're concerned about your loved one oversleeping or "zoning out" in the middle of a conversation or activity, try gently rubbing his or her hand. This gentle stimulation may be just rousing enough.