Seniors Sleeping Too Long?

My mom has Familia Alzheimers'.  I am her caregiver and my husband is my relief.  We would like to know how much sleep is too much.  Mom could sleep the entire night and the next day if I let her.  Her bedtime is between 8:30 and 9:30 at night, waking at 10:00 am, and most days she naps from 2:00 until 4:00.  In the summer she was more active and we were able to take her outdoors, so she woke at 9:00 am and most days skipped a nap, going to bed around 8:30 or 9:00.  She is in the late mid to early late stages of the disease.  My husband thinks she is sleeping to much.  I told him that she has no interests and doesn't know what most things are anymore, so doing things with her is out of the question.  (we dance and sing (she hums) and we walk around the inside of the house, climb stairs (very carefully) she talks to her dolls, and she and I try to hold conversations (short ones) but that is basically all we do.  If you have suggestions on activities for her please feel free to suggest them.  Anyways, I explained this to him, and also to our family doctor who said that there was nothing wrong with allowing her to sleep longer, because there was no way of telling when she might get into the wandering stage and that I should be resting as well.  I would be truly grateful if you would please let me know if you are in agreement with my doctor, and what you deem a reasonable amount of sleep for a person with moderate to severe Alzheimer’s.  Thank you very much.

Deryl in Lousiana, 47

Dear Deryl,

Anyone dealing with Alzheimer's (no matter what stage of the disease), needs support, resources, and a great deal of understanding.  I’m talking about both you and your mother. I would suggest you find the nearest Alzheimer's Association in your area and go to a caregivers support meeting. My experience is that others who have personal experience dealing with this disease and a family member know more about what works and what doesn’t.

Sleeping is such an individual matter, and we each have our own internal rhythm and needs. Use your common sense on this matter. You know your mother’s needs.  Music almost always works, especially if you take the time to find out the music that was most important in your mother’s life. What type of music did she like in her earlier years, from age 15 to 35?  Research and find this music, then play it for her.  She may pick up on the tempo, the rhythm, and/or the lyrics. 

Also, then more walking and outdoor activity the better. Sunlight is needed to set our internal clocks, the fresh air is invigorating, and the change of scenery can be stimulating for both you and your mother. Caring for someone with dementia, no  matter what form or stage, is a great deal of work.  So I beg you, be sure to take time to take care of yourself as well.

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