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My sister and I are caring for our mother who will soon be 103 years old in her home. We are avoiding a nursing home -a promise we made years ago to her - as long as she "knows where she is".

She is very sweet and her mind is good, although we are seeing some short term forgetfulness and anxiety recently. She's broken and rehabbed from two broken hips and takes little medicine. (Eyedrops for glaucoma 7 times a day.)

Our biggest problem right now is trying to get enough sleep. Mother wakes up some nights 5 or 6 times to visit the bathroom. (She is not incontinent!)

My sister and I are ages 68 and 78 and have homes and families of our own some distances away, but we take shifts to stay with Mother. After 3 nights without sound sleep, we feel like we are falling apart.

Mother checks negative for UTIs and we've tried everything - propping her up, Geritol, darkening her room, etc - but nothing seems to help. The strange thing is that during the day, she goes 6 hours or more and doesn't have to go to the bathroom. Just let her get into bed and us into a sound sleep, and the wake ups begin and can continue every hour or two, with them sometimes occurring 20-30 min. apart.

Her doctors, including a gerontologist, are stumped. We know she has a cystocele and had a pessary for awhile, but that caused more problems. Several of the doctors tell us to have her urinate in her protective pad when she wakes up, but she is not comfortable with doing that. Besides, any urine touching her very fragile skin for even short periods of time seems to set off fungal infections.

We can't afford more than a little respite care through the local office of aging, especially at night.
Any suggestions or explanations would be appreciated because we cannot go on much longer. After all, sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture on some places!

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My husband has dementia and wakes up at night several times. I can take care of him during the day who is receiving Hospice care. I have cancer and was exhausted everyday until I decided to hire an in-home caregiver during the night. but it is getting to be quite expensive. Is there any safe relaxing pill or mild sleeping pills he can take, but still be continent? He hates to use diapers or urinal. There is nothing for him to do during the day, so he sleeps. Then he is wakeful at night. How can I reverse day and night for him, so that I do not have to depend on the night person just to watch him?
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I rarely ever say this, BLESS YOU...You and your sister sound like your Mother is a very special soul... and so are both of YOU !!!
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Bluebirdlover - God bless you & your sister. I appreciate your view that your Mom is in HER home surrounded by familiar and loving faces. Even 5-star nursing homes cannot provide that kind of peace for her.

My 92 year old mother was also up a dozen times during the night to urinate. Like your Mom - there was nothing really wrong....except I think that maybe it was just the position of her bladder when she laid down. My poor father, who slept beside her for almost 65 years, couldn't get a decent night's sleep for beans! He put a potty chair next to the bed and a fairly good night light nearby so she could simply slip out of bed and use it as she needed without having to fully disturb him. He emptied the potty every morning after breakfast - lol - part of their routine. It wasn't a perfect solution, but it helped.
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Windyridge, my sig other uses Ambien and I had to call 911 on two separate occasions because he would wake up for whatever reason, get out of bed, and while walking fall back into a deep sleep... then you would hear a large thud, down he went... then he would get back up walk some more and thud. One time he walking down the stairs, thud. Scared the daylights out of me because he looked like he was non-responsive.
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Would a very low dose ambien or similar med be out of the question?
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There's an over the counter product called Azo that is recommended by doctors. It comes in a variety of different needs, such as one product called Go-Less. Also try your Mom drinking some cranberry juice, Azo also have a cranberry pill. Check with her primary doctor first to make sure these items are ok to use.
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My 97 year old mom used to do the same as your mom. She wakes up every hour or 2 to go to the toilet to empty her bladder. I have observed that this happens because she took so much water for dinner. I adjusted her water intake during dinner to a maximum of 2 glasses. She then slept longer hours, her toilet visits decreased to 2 the whole night.
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I appreciate the heads up about eyedrops, Pam. Mother's eye doctor says she has outlived her surgeries for glaucoma and cataracts and the drops are needed to preserve what little sight she has left. (She is on Pilocarpine, Dorzalamide and Xalatan.)
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Thanks for your response, Babalou. After two terrifying experiences in nursing homes where Mother rehabbed after her hip surgeries however, we have little frame of reference for "nice NH or AL"!

We sprung her out of both places after a month and both times she came home with "community-acquired" infections (her m.d.'s term) that we managed to conquer.

We stayed with her as advocates after her first night in the NH, when she ended up lying in her feces and urine for over an hour. We saw the staff wiping her from back to front. She couldn't tolerate the food. (Ever tried pureed dinner rolls...?) They gave her meds and did other things that we were told were their system, but from experience caring for her, we knew the results - and we were right!

We find at her age that her ability to adapt to such places is nearly impossible, given that her mind is still relatively good. She is presently in the quiet and peaceful home her husband built, surrounded by caring people who love her, eating food she can enjoy and sleeping in her own bed. She exercises every day with us, gets around in her walker and still helps with some chores. She is an inspiration to all who meet her.

She really doesn't require much care during the day, and since she still remembers stories of her long life, I am writing them down and beginning a family history while I have her with me.

It is just this nighttime issue that is troubling. We hope we can solve it and this hold out as long as we're needed.
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Check the eyedrops. Seven times a day seems like a lot and some glaucoma meds can lead to insomnia, such as Brimonidine (Alphagan). Ask the MD why so much.
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I'm going to assume that she's been to a urologist and everything has checked out. So, it really comes down to, are you and your sister willing to die rather than get mom into a nice AL or NH situation. As you clearly know, sleep deprivation can kill you; I believe that it is responsible for at least some of the one third of caregivers who die each year.

Can you not load mom's area of concern up with a moisture barrier ointment and put her in heavy duty depends overnight?
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