Rest Assured: Positive Sleep Habits for Caregivers

Mar 21, 2016

Rest Assured: Positive Sleep Habits for Caregivers

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Catching those sought-after winks can be easier said than done when it comes to the sleep habits of caregivers to older adults. When the primary concern throughout the day is that your loved one is healthy and cared for to the best of your ability, it can really wear at your own well-being. It is all too common for caregivers to toss and turn because of the worry or stress they have about their loved one.

Habits for Caregivers to Secure Sleep

We know that caregiving for a loved one can be exhausting and the stress from it can negatively affect your sleep habits. Here are some tips to relieve caregiver stress, get some shut eye, and avoid caregiver burnout

Catch a break so you catch those Zzz’s

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a caregiver seeking assistance or another set of hands to watch over their senior every once in a while. There are ample options out there to gain more carefree time to rest. You just have to be willing to explore different avenues.

One option is to ask about respite volunteer workers at your Local Office of Aging. Typically, respite care is just a short stay in some sort of assisted living community. However, you can also get these kinds of workers to come visit in-home for a short period of time or for just a few hours a week. Therefore, if you’re ever having a case of major burnout, you may be able to get some extra help right to your home so you can finally get some time to care for yourself.

Another option is to explore are adult day cares. Adult day cares allow your senior to use a lot of energy with supervised activities for several hours during the day, which may help to tire them out in the evening so that you can fall asleep with ease. Adult day cares are also an ideal option for seniors with impairments such as dementia or a physical disability because of the professional support that is given to these individuals throughout the day.

Alternatively, if you’re a caregiver who finds that they simply can’t endure the suffering of night after night of restlessness from the demands of their senior, it might be time to consider a nursing home or specialized facility. This is especially beneficial for caregivers that deal with constant nighttime wandering from a loved one that has Alzheimer’s or another cognitive disorder.

Caregiving for Caregivers

Just because you’re caring for someone else now doesn’t mean that your own habits should go unnoticed. Maybe the reason you’re not getting proper rest isn’t due to anything that your senior is doing but maybe it’s your lifestyle habits that just need to be adjusted.

Avoid guzzling those caffeinated drinks in the afternoon and evening. Coffee, tea, soda, and chocolate are some of our favorite things, but they can keep us wired when we should be hitting the hay. Similarly, it is best to avoid eating huge meals right before you plan on going to sleep because that undigested food can keep you up.

It also is advised to make a rule not to use electronics when in bed. This includes your iPhone, your TV, you tablet, and/or your laptop. Not only is the blue light preventing you from getting the feeling of being tired, but it also is distracting you from the main objective, sleep.

Planning for sleep can be helpful for caregivers that are struggling to snag those Zzz’s. Just like mothers do with their babies, try to squeeze naps in during times that your loved one is also resting. Additionally, you should aim to go to bed at the same time each night so that you become accustomed to that schedule.

The final way to help your body fall asleep with ease is by practicing simple meditation through quiet moments of focused breathing. This may not work as well for everyone, but meditation is notorious for incredible relaxation benefits.

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Frequently Asked Questions

My mother has Alzheimer's disease, and lately she's been wandering out of the house. What can I do to stop her wandering?

Wandering can bring forth loads of anxiety in any caregiver, but thankfully, there are many things you can do to put a stop to the wandering, or at least decrease it. The first thing you should do is secure your house. Replace locks and doorknobs with ones that are more difficult to open. Put up an alarm system so that if the door were to open, you will be alerted immediately.

At times it’s difficult to prevent this completely, especially with some very persistent individuals. But, there are things you can do to keep the situation from becoming hazardous even if an individual wanders. For example, always make sure the individual has some sort of identification on them. You could also put up a fence as long as it’s a reasonable option.

If you find that the issue of wandering is out of your hands and may result in your loved one getting hurt, it may be time to consider other options. This may include hiring outside help in the form of an in-home health aid or moving your senior to a senior living community that specializes in memory care.

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I take care of my father at home, he was diagnosed with Dementia, but it seems to be worsening, what should I do?

Seek the help of a physician. If Alzheimer’s, a type of dementia, is caught in the early stages, there is a lot of preventative care and treatments that physicians may offer your father to maintain, and even increase, quality of life. Make notes of any of the common Alzheimer's signs or symptoms your father might show.

If you find that taking care of your father is becoming too burdensome on you, consider having other family members help or hire outside help. There are in-home health aides, as well as adult day care centers that have staff specially trained for seniors with Dementia or Alzheimer's.

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