Today, GrandCare welcomes guest blogger and personal trainer Jason Lewis. Thanks for sharing your expertise with us, Lewis.
As we age, our sleeping patterns naturally change. Some people may require more sleep and others may begin to rise earlier. While these changes are often considered normal, not getting enough quality sleep can be a serious detriment to brain and body functions, especially for senior citizens.
The Importance of Sleep
The typical person performs best with seven to nine hours of sleep. Though some people can only dream of catching that many Z’s, getting a good night’s rest is important, to our overall health and to our well-being. When we sleep well, it helps:
- Improve concentration and memory
- Control emotions
- Handle changes
- Decrease moodiness
- Repair cell damage
- Refresh the immune system
- Prevent disease, such as high blood pressure or stroke
There are numerous possible interruptions to a good night’s sleep, such as:
- A busy or fluctuating work schedule
- Insomnia caused by medication, stress, or anxiety
- Another sleep disorder
- Nightmares or night terrors
- Mental health disorders, such as depression or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- High intake of caffeine
- Lack of exercise during the day
- Lack of exposure to sunlight
- Exposure to electronics before bedtime
- Lack of nighttime routine
- Taking long daytime naps
- Use of alcohol, nicotine, or other substances
- Differing family sleep schedules (i.e. children go to bed earlier and also wake earlier than you)
- Physical pain
- Outside distractions, such as a snoring spouse or loud traffic
- Other health issues
Signs of Poor Sleep in Seniors
Lack of proper sleep has a greater effect on the elderly. When your older loved ones aren’t getting enough sleep, it can result in these five common signs or symptoms:
- Depression: Lack of sleep can be both a cause and side effect of depression. Poor sleep causes the brain to function at a subpar level, which can lead to symptoms of depression. Additionally, seniors with depression can have trouble sleeping as a side effect (even if they’ve never had trouble sleeping before). If your loved one is experiencing feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, isolation, or helplessness, they may be experiencing depression. If so, it’s important to reach out to a medical or mental health professional for help.
- Memory issues or confusion: While elderly individuals do tend to experience some level of memory loss naturally, it could actually be a sign of poor sleep. Sleep impacts the way our brains function, and can cause confusion or poor recall skills.
- Daytime fatigue: One of the more obvious, and more overlooked, symptoms of poor sleep is daytime fatigue or lethargy. A person who gets seven to nine hours of sleep will not experience as much daytime fatigue as those who wake regularly throughout the night. Sleepiness or taking more naps may be signs of poor sleep, as are waking up tired or waking up in pain.
- Falls during the day or night: Our brain helps control our balance and stability. When it’s not functioning at an optimal level, the risk of falls and tumbles increases. This is especially concerning for seniors who are already at high risk for a fall and may experience more extensive injuries if a fall occurs.
- Worsening of heart diseases, diabetes, or weight problems: Sleep impacts our overall well-being. If we sleep well, our bodies are able to repair any damage that may have occurred during the day. Without proper sleep, our brains and bodies function inefficiently and are therefore more prone to diseases such as heart attack or obesity.
If an older loved one is experiencing any of these symptoms, talk to a medical professional about potential remedies. You might also want to help your senior loved one start getting more exercise. Not only will it help them sleep, it will also help alleviate depression symptoms. And if you can find an option that offers community, such as a water aerobics class, even better. Overall, any improvement in sleep will help sustain the health and well-being of your loved one.
Jason Lewis is the primary caregiver for his mother, as well as a professional personal trainer, specializing in work with seniors. His work involves the physical and mental health of the seniors he serves. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
GrandCare Systems is a caregiving tool that can help identify sleep issues in seniors. More than that, it’s designed to reduce healthcare costs and improve outcomes by enabling designated family members, caregivers and healthcare professionals to remotely care for an individual in a home or residential community, regardless of geographic location.
The heart of GrandCare is a large touchscreen in the residence, which provides the individual with social communications, instructions, reminders and medication prompts. Wireless activity sensors monitor daily activities without impeding a resident’s independence or privacy. Non-intrusive bed sensors can help you know whether the resident is getting the valuable sleep he needs. You can also see graphs that help you see important information, such as whether sleep patterns have changed, if the resident has stayed in bed in bed longer than usual, or whether he has had a restless or restful night.
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