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Help! Mom won't turn her light off at night. She seems to sleep okay with it on but she's getting up early and napping a lot during the day and then gets very confused about time of day.

I don't want to set her light to be off at night because she still gets up to go to the bathroom and used to turn on her light to do that. Now she's just leaving it on.

Any ideas?

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Jolly: you will do well because you are being PRO-active. A schedule, good food, sunshine and fresh air and HAPPINESS help so much. It took me quite a while to learn to be patient, learn to go with the 'flow' and understand that putting myself in my mother's position was more important than what "I" thought was necessary.

I say this all the time, they may not remember WHAT you said, but they WILL remember how you made them feel!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!
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Hey, you know what? I've been beating myself up because of this recent change but I realized that when my mom lived with my brother (until we moved her in with us last May) she would sleep or wander around all day and be up every hour, if not more, at night. She broke her wrist when she fell down outside while no one was home and she somehow broke a couple ribs just last year. We still don't know how that happened!

So, all in all, I have managed to get her into a better sleep routine - even if she does get up early now. And the suggestions here have helped us with the day/night issue.

Realistically, all is good! (As Mom sits her in her chair humming off key because she is tone deaf. Too funny!)
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Thanks, everyone!

MiaMadre, thank you for the advice! Mom lives with me and I care for her 24x7 with some help from my husband but he still works daily.

Even though it is winter here and it's been an exceptionally snowy one, I love daylight so my husband has daylight bulbs for all the major lights in our house. In addition, we don't have curtains at our windows, only blinds, and we keep the blinds open all day. Mom loves to look out the windows and constantly comments about the blue sky or the sun and the clouds.

At night, we keep the lights off in the rooms we are not using but we do have nightlights in most of the rooms to avoid my panic feelings and keep any of us from running into something.

At this point in time, she is going to bed by 9:30 pm and gets up during the night to go to the bathroom. In the last 8 months she has changed from waking between 7:30 and 8:00 am to now being up and dressed prior to 6:00. I don't get up until 6:00 and I keep the house dark while I do my exercises, then I begin making breakfast and we eat at 7:00.

We have the gate at the end of the hallway that, at this point, she doesn't know how to open and if she did manage to figure it out (she hasn't tried), it would make a racket and wake us. It limits her to her bedroom, our bedroom and the bathroom and we have locks on all the bathroom cabinets.

We have a key deadbolt on the outside door and I do have lots of recent pictures.

I've been contemplating the alarm pad and the cameras so I think I will move forward with that.

Thank you so much MiaMadre! Everyone else too! It's wonderful to know there are others there to turn to in this interesting time of my life!
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Christina you don't have to be either a babe or elderly to leave the light on at night..I can tell you there were many years I did not feel well or was depressed and many nights the light or the tv was on all night...helped me get through a lot of nights...simple light!

Good night y'all!
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magnoliatwin: I like your answer. We need to keep it SIMPLE when it is:) Bless you, and Jolly, and all the light-loving souls.
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just let her leave it on. u will not regret it when she"s gone. God Bless
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I spoke to my Mother's geriatric Dr. about the sleep thing. She said when they have dementia, and older ( mine is 93), their sleep cycles change! They are like cats, then: more wakeful at night, and sleeping on and off during the day. So, I was WRONG about the melatonin post before. Guess it doesn't apply to elderly, and I APOLOGIZE for the misinformation.
Hugs, christina
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When one of the wall lamps on one side of my mom's bed broke I replaced with an old fashioned hurricane lamp I had purchased (set of 2) and had stored at my mom's house. The bottom part has a night light and the top is the lamp and it is three way. Both parts lit, or only bottom nite light or top lamp. When I first set it up I asked my mom at night if she wanted it on she only then wanted the night light, it has now progressed where she wants all the light, so I have that lit up plus two other decorative night lamps (old fashioned boots) lit up next to it as well, plus the night light that shines from the bathroom attached to the room. So she likes light at night, I feel it's because she is slowly going blind and one eye is really bad, so it helps her at night. She likes to lay down we have trouble to get her walk around. She says she does not sleep at night, but I think she takes cat naps through the night and the day.
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Unless you are able to stay up with her, (can't remember if you are home all the time) and keep an eye on her, start looking to how you will cover 'both shifts'.

I still think that maintaining proper 'light levels during the day, even sitting in the sun, and then lowering lights at night so she will be sleepy is best. Also there are DVD/vcr tape of sleepy animals that will help.

Make sure your home is 'escape proof'. If you don't have deadbolt locks (where you hold the key), do this soon. Put motion 'security lights' around the house that will light up should she get outside. Put an 'alarm pad' that goes off if she get up in the middle of the night (alarm goes off in YOUR room) so you will know she is awake.

We had security cameras that would automatically turn on a light if Mom was milling about, and since I was a light sleeper it woke me up when the light went on.

I was able to 'be up' with her, MOST of the time, but this was very stressful for me. You will need 'help'. Someone to be UP in the house while you sleep. My husband was a late night person, so he covered MOST of the night, while I slept. It was very stressful. Some don't have any problems letting their loved ones 'wander around' at night, but there is more to it than just getting out of the house. At my brothers my mother almost set the house on fire when she started a 'fire' on the 'coal stove' (it was electric) because she was cold. Anything can happen.

So ideas for this stage; warning devices when she IS awake, low light security cameras so you can keep an 'eye' on her without disturbing her or agitating her, escape proof your house with locks, and motion lights.

OH... and something else that seems to be obvious but is overlooked. Make SURE you have a recent photo of her AND make sure that friendly neighbors know that Mom is ........ and if she is seen 'wandering' alone to call........ You never know. Hearing of stories (even from my brother) who left Mom alone quite frequently of elders that are 'missing' breaks my heart. He felt she was fine on her own, but I knew differently.

Even in a nursing home, there can be many problems once their sleep cycle is disrupted.

Well.. I have gone on and on... God bless... and thanks for the update.
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The 7 1/2 watt bulb is working and we put a timer on her big light so that it can only be on between 6:30 am and 10:00 pm. I also wore her out on Christmas Eve and Christmas day and kept her up and busy the last two days.

I wish I could say that all that worked and she is staying in bed better but that is not the case. She has still been up and dressed by 6:00 am when I get up.

I'm beginning to think I have to resign myself to the fact that she has reached that stage where she will be sleeping during the day and restless at night. Any help on that stage?
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When I come home from work each day, my mother in law will have every light in the house on,..which I will turn all but one off. At night she turns on her bathroom lights, all three and we will turn two off. We have put night lights in her room, that shut off during the day, but she took them out. I didn't think of putting low watt bulbs in her lamps, but will do this, since she will get up in the middle of night thinking its the next day. Lately she has open her bedroom door, leaving to the family room.
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Aww! Thanks Bobbie! I'm trying!
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I always had a nightlight for mom so she didn't fall down and break her crown.

You are a good daughter.

lovbob
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Thanks so much everyone! I've been doing some of what has been mentioned (jigsaw puzzles, solitaire, folding towels, shopping, family pictures) but there's always a "little more" that I find in the suggestions.

Mom is definitely on a schedule. I maintained the one she had been on for years so that there was no transitioning and it does help immensely. This light on at night started in the last month and over time has thrown off her timing.

Yesterday when I talked to her about taking the lamp she was okay but when she found it gone, it wasn't okay. My wonderful husband then went to Lowe's and bought a regular size 7 1/2 watt light bulb to fit in her bedside lamp. I put the lamp back in her room and told her she could keep it on all night and she was happy with that.

We wore her out yesterday - although I let her snooze here and there as usual, I made her walk at the grocery store and we were at my husband's family Christmas yesterday late afternoon into evening and didn't take her home until after 9:00. She went to bed at 10:00 and told me this morning that she slept well. I know that she got up to use the bathroom just before it was time to get up but she went back to bed after - I think because she didn't have the bright light shining in her room.

The next few days will be the real test. We have Christmas with my family (Mom's) today and a stop at my husband's brother's this afternoon late. Tonight she may be exhausted again but Monday and Tuesday morning will really tell the tale!
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KEEPING A ROUTINE IS GOOD IF SHE IS ON A SCHEDULE. UP AT SAME TIME, DRESSING & BRUSH TEETH, MEALS, BEDTIME. MAKE CHARTS TO REMIND HER . YOU CAN GET WHITE BOARD WITH COLOR MARKERS. REMINDERS LIKE APPOINTMENTS AND HAVE DATE. EACH DAY GO OVER WHAT IS HAPPENING THAT DAY USING DIFFERENT COLOR FOR REMINDERS. IF SHE USE TO LIKE TO READ YOU CAN GET BOOKS ON TAPE AT LOCAL LIBARARY. SHE CAN LISTEN TO STORIES OR EVEN THE BIBLE. FIND PROGRAMS THAT ARE FOR HER LIKE THE GOLDEN GIRLS OR 70'S SHOWS SHE USE TO WATCH. MUSIC THE CABLE CHANNEL EVEN HAS OLDIES / JUST MUSIC NO WORDS IF THE WEATHER IS GOOD GO FOR A DRIVE, JUST GET ICE CREAM OR DRINK TALK TO HER ASK HER WHAT SHE WOULD LIKE TO DO EVEN IF CONFUSED THEY HEAR YOU DON'T TALK AT HER TALK WITH HER.
OH YEA WE TOOK PHOTOS AND PUT NAMES UNDER EACH PERSON TO SAY WHO THEY ARE AND WHERE THEY WERE THEN WE TALKED ABOUT IT COPIES OF PHOTOS AT COPY STORE ARE CHEAP AND I MADE A BOOK WITH EVERYONE THEN WROTE NAMES UNDER PICTURES AND WHO THEY ARE AND WHERE THEY ARE OR WHAT THEY WERE DOING. VACATIONS, HOLIDAYS, WHATEVER IT IS "MOM'S BOOK" SHE CAN LOOK THRU AND IT MAY REMIND HER. LIKE A STORY BOOK OF HER LIFE WITH ALL OF YOU IN IT. A REMINDER AND HELPS MEMORY. I STARTED WITH HER AND DAD AND THEN ADDED KIDS, BABY TO MARRIGES AND THEN HER GRAND KIDS AND GREAT GRANDKIDS. TOP PAGE PHOTOS AND STORIES UNDER LITTLE REMINDERS BUT IT IS ALSO HER LIFE STORY IT WAS FUN TO ORGANIZE AND I CHANGED IT AND ADDED TO IT AS I WAS MAKING IT WITH HER. KEEP IN TOUCH HAPPY HOLIDAYS HANG IN THERE YOUR DOING GREAT.
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Jolly: You are on to some very good ideas and thoughts about how to help her with Day and Night.

There are 'daylight' bulbs that you can use during the day to provide more 'natural daylight'. And even sitting in a sunny window will help keep her more alert. I didn't mind Mom napping during the day for short periods, since it seemed to keep her 'happier'. Happy was good.

Keeping a schedule helps too. My mother was a VERY early riser until we got blackout curtains for her window. After we put those in her room, she seemed to sleep longer in the morning. She also had a 'nightlight' on, very low (15watt) so she would be able to go to the bathroom at night. Nightlights in the bathroom helped too, and seemed to be enough instead of her turning on a bright light.

TIMERs can help too, but even though it is good to sleep in complete darkness, sometimes dementia/Alzheimer's will cause confusion if they cannot see where they are. I was worried that she would not be able to see where she was going, so very low light nightlights 'lit' the way to the bathroom.

There are many things you can try to keep her on a schedule, but do prepare yourself for disruption in her schedule. Many times their schedule will shift (from day to night). This will require night time help so she doesn't wander, etc.

God bless... and Happy Holidays!
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It's funny Evalena! She did all those things for years but a few years ago she broke her arm and it was after the dementia had already set in. She forgot how to do any of it and when I've tried to get her interested, she finds she isn't able to do it.

The one thing I can get her to do is play solitaire but if I'm not helping, she gets very frustrated and puts the cards away. I do that with her - letting her play and just helping if she gets lost. I managed to get her to help with some Christmas ornaments by laying it out so she could do them in steps. The first step worked well, the second and third were too difficult and she quit. I was able to bring her back for the fourth and she finished them.

Unfortunately her mind is far enough gone that she just can't remember how to do the things she loved to do. I give her the towels to fold and other things that she still enjoys but if something gets too frustrating she stops on her own.

I tried turning off her lamp after she went to sleep last night but she turned it back on when she went to the bathroom. This morning I put a nightlight in her room and took away her bedside lamp - after explaining to her that I was doing it and why and added that the doctor said it wasn't good for her to sleep with the light on because she was confusing her days and nights. We have a remote on her other lamp so that we can turn it off and she won't be able to turn it on. I'll also put a low watt bulb in it so that it won't be too bright even if she manages to get it on.

Our house is never completely dark because quite frankly, I have had panic attacks in the dark. I have nightlights everywhere so there is no fear of her not being able to see if she gets up in the night, she just won't be able to turn on a bright light. I'll let you know how tonight goes!
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I had a older lady friend who started doing this also. As she explained to me she said when she woke up she was sometimes confused and scared so she wanted a night light. We got a low watt bulb 15 watts this gave her light. Just remember the circle of life when we were babies we ate, slept, and went to the bathroom. As some people get older they have what is called sundowners they seem to have more energy during the evening hours. You might have her blood checked to see if she is okay and then remember what she like to do when she was active. Give her something to do we forget they use to be so busy and now we do it all for them let her help if she is able make her feel useful and that she is needed. Day outings adult day care have activities, knitting, quilting or just helping at your home. Make her feel needed and loved. They give up cause they don't have anything to do. Good luck check out at church for older ladies who are making blankets for new babies or kids in foster homes they all would like their own blanket. If she can still knitt have her start a project to help someone else that way she still feels needed.
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You need to provide more light/dark CONTRAST for your Mother around the clock. Sounds like her melatonin levels are off. Expose her to BRIGHT light in the morning, average to fair light during the day; as evening comes, dim the lights, and make sure that you let her sleep in DARK room--give her a nightlight, then turn it off--if you can without her being disturbed. Her mood, sleep habits will improve, cortisol levels will drop(weight), etc. It might take some time, and depending on where you live, you may need to interject healthy artificial light during the day. Remember "contrast" from day to night.
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Good ideas! Mom is 94 and takes no medication at all. Very healthy other than the Alzheimer's. I try to keep her busy during the day but the winter weather seems to have thrown a wrench in some of her favorite routines. Too much snow to go to stores or malls every day for long walks. My husband keeps our drive clear but the parking lots at the stores are an issue. Lately she does seem to want to move around the house more when she is awake but she wants to go to bed early and I have to make her stay up. She isn't showing interest in our normal home activities.
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My mom would leave hers on as well, then I put on a night light for her and a cloth over the big light to add some shade. Elders get "sun downers", and do not like he dark, she could be scared to fall and may want the light on. My mom slept a lot during the day as well, that could be age, medicine, being board as well too. Have you askede her docotr if any of her medicine could be causing and of her napping during the day? How old is she? Are there any activities that you could be doing with her to keep her awake during he day, crossword puzzles, cards, games, movies, shopping, etc. Just a few thoughts.
Blessings,
Bridget
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